ESPN has Caitlyn Jenner‘s back.
Last month, ESPN announced that the 65-year-old I Am Cait star would be receiving the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at this year’s ESPY Awards, which take place tomorrow in L.A. Despite receiving some criticism, ESPYs producers are standing by the decision to honor Caitlyn Wednesday night.
“I think Caitlyn’s decision to publicly come out as a transgender woman and live as Caitlyn Jenner displayed enormous courage and self-acceptance,” producer Maura Mandt told Sports Illustrated this week. “Bruce Jenner could have easily gone off into the sunset as this American hero and never have dealt with this publicly. Doing so took enormous courage.”
“He was one of the greatest athletes of our time,” Mandt continued. “That is what the Arthur Ashe Courage Award is about, somebody from the athletic community who has done something that transcends sport. One of the biggest platforms the Arthur Ashe Foundation has is educational, and I think in this choice we have the opportunity to educate people about this issue and hopefully change and possibly save some lives. I think that is why it was the right choice.”
When the Arthur Ashe announcement was made last month, Caitlyn said in a statement, “In the past few months, the overwhelming outpouring of support from all over the world for my journey has been incredible. However, being honored with this award, which is named after one of my heroes, is truly special. For the first time this July, I will be able to stand as my true self in front of my peers.”
Past recipients of the honor include Michael Sam, the NFL league’s first openly gay player, Good Morning America‘s Robin Roberts and former women’s college basketball coach Pat Summitt.
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