Wednesday night’s ESPY Awards had plenty of standout moments, including a touching tribute to the three Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School coaches who died protecting students in the Parkland, Fla., shooting in February.
Another heart-wrenching moment came during the presentation of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award — a prestigious honor whose previous recipients include Muhammad Ali, Billie Jean King, and Robin Roberts — to 141 female athletes who survived Larry Nassar‘s sexual abuse.
Jennifer Garner presented the award to the group, whose numbers included Olympic gymnasts Aly Raisman, Jordyn Wieber, and Maggie Nichols. The women have all spoken out about their abuse at the hands of the former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University team doctor, who is now in prison for his crimes. (More than 250 girls and women have accused Nassar of abuse.)
The presentation included a powerful speech from Raisman, who admonished those informed of Nassar’s crimes long before action was taken.
“Predators thrive in silence,” the gold medalist said. “Whether you act or do nothing, you are shaping the world we live in. … All we needed was one adult to have the integrity to stand between us and Larry Nassar. If just one adult had listened, believed, and acted, the people standing before you on this stage would have never met him. … To all the survivors out there, don’t let anyone rewrite your story. Your truth does matter. You matter, and you are not alone.”
After the show, Garner made another tribute to the women in an Instagram post, calling Raisman and her fellow survivors an “army of strength” and “an army for right.” (Though her post mentions 147 survivors, 141 were actually on stage.)
This is a picture of an army. An army of strength. An army for right. Here are 147 survivors of the unspeakable abuses committed by Dr. Larry Nassar—I was humbled to present them with the #ArthurAsheAward for Courage at tonight’s #ESPYAwards. Seeing these heroes in one place, on one stage blew me away—it takes such courage and strength to tell their stories. Sunlight is the best antiseptic—thank you to the survivors, to Jimmy Pitaro and to @abcnetwork & @espn for putting sexual abuse of minors in the sun—hopefully we won’t be telling this story again. ❤️❤️❤️ (1 of 3)
A post shared by Jennifer Garner (@jennifer.garner) on Jul 18, 2018 at 8:11pm PDT
The actress added that “seeing these heroes in one place, on one stage blew me away.”
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