7 Moving and Memorable Moments From the 2015 EPSY Awards

by Zach Seemayer 11:55 PM PDT, July 15, 2015
Photo: Getty Images

The EPSY Awards kicked off Wednesday night in Los Angeles and it was clear from the multitude of emotional and heartwarming presentations that this award show was trying hard to distance itself from the multitude of other awards shows by tugging strongly at the heartstrings with meaningful content and deeply moving tributes.

In a night filled with tears, laughs, inspiration and joy, here are seven moments from the 2015 ESPY Awards that will stick with you.

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1. Danielle Green Wins the Pat Tillman Award for Service

Danielle's emotional introductory video, telling the story about how she enlisted in the Army and ended up enduring a terrible arm injury that required amputation, already had us teary-eyed. But when she delivered her emotional acceptance speech and shared a story about her Army comrades went back to where she lost her hands to retrieve her wedding ring for her, it became the kind of speech that sticks with you forever. Her ultimate message -- "We can all find ways to support the people around us. We can all find a purpose on this Earth larger than yourself" -- really struck a powerful cord with the audience.

2. Lauren Hill's Parents Accept Her ESPY Award

Lauren Hill was a teenage basketball player who fought a daunting battle against brain cancer, all while working to achieve her goal of playing college basketball. Sadly, Hill passed away in April, but not before achieving her dream. In November, Hill played a game of college basketball for Mount St. Joseph University to a sold-out and wildly supportive crowd.

Hill's parents accepted the ESPYs' Best Moment award, and gave a moving, heartfelt speech on behalf of their late daughter, sharing the message her legacy embodied: "It is possible to achieve your dreams."

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3. Joel McHale's 30 for 30 Documentary

While the night's most impactful moments were also the most emotional, the show wasn't without its fun. Host Joel McHale's monologue at the start of the night had some pretty solid jokes, but the mock episode of ESPN's 30 for 30 that skewered McHale (and his opening monologue) was brilliant and gave a ton of stars and athletes a chance to burn McHale.

4. Devon Still Honors His Daughter Leah

In what might have been the most powerful presentation of the night, Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Devon Still accepted the ESPY Award for Perseverance on behalf of his 5-year-old daughter Leah, who has spent the last two years battling cancer. Leah's doctors said that she wasn't up to appearing at the ceremony, so a tearful Devon took the stage alone and shared stories of the strength and courage his little girl has shown during her incredibly difficult struggle and recovery. Leah even got to say hello through a cheery pre-recorded message that brought tears to everyone's eyes.

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5. Ben Affleck Presents Derek Jeter With the Icon Award

Photo: Getty Images

Ben Affleck was tasked with presenting the Icon Award to former Yankee Derek Jeter, despite being a life-long Boston fan. However, Affleck did an admirable job proving that it's simply impossible to not respect the importance and consistent sportsmanship of Jeter, telling that audience that his heart was broken when the Yankee superstar announced his retirement.

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6. Caitlyn Jenner Accepts the Arthur Ashe Courage Award

In what had to be the most anticipated and highly publicized moment of the evening, Caitlyn Jenner was presented with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award, and she made sure to use her platform to share an important message of love and acceptance, stressing the importance of respect for all people. It was the speech so many hoped for, as it shined a light on issues facing the trans community in a way that could hopefully spark real change.

7. U.S. Women's Soccer Team Wins Again

USA! USA! USA! The Best Team Award was obviously going to go the U.S. Women's Soccer Team, but it was just such a perfect way to end the ceremony on a high note.

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