Russell Wilson, Megan Rapinoe & Sue Bird Open 2020 ESPYs with Powerful Speech About Black Lives Matter
Sports icons Russell Wilson, Megan Rapinoe and Sue Bird are remotely hosting the 2020 ESPY Awards
The three sports icons —and now, ESPYs hosts — began the show from the comfort of their own homes due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. But the trio opened the ESPYs by addressing important issues facing the country, such as the ongoing protests against police brutality and systemic racism reignited by the May 25 death of George Floyd.
Paying tribute to Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Wilson kicked off the video monologue.
"Our country's work is not anywhere close to done. We need justice. We need true leadership. We need a change, and we need it now," said Wilson. "I look at my children and I pray for a better future."
He continued, "The only thing that must die is racism. Black lives matter. So where do we go from here? ... I see a world of hurt, pain, and despair. But I also see a new generation, a generation that is calling out in desperate need for lasting change."
Wilson encouraged: "To my white teammates and friends, we need you to lead too. Don't just listen, help."
"It's important that we keep this dialogue going and this energy alive," followed Rapinoe.
Bird later appeared, saying, "Trust us, we know that sports are important. It's why we're gathered here tonight. But do black lives matter to you when they're not throwing touchdowns, grabbing rebounds, serving aces?"
Asserted the WNBA star of the sports world: "Our return must be part of the fight for justice."
Wilson — who is married to singer, Ciara — is the starting quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks. Rapinoe plays soccer in the National Women's Soccer League and on the United States women's national soccer team, and her girlfriend, Bird, is a player on the WNBA's Seattle Storm.
This year's ESPYs show, which is normally held in Los Angeles in July, was given a new date and re-created with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic in mind.
The show will still feature the presentation of top awards like the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage, the Pat Tillman Award for Service, and the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance, but the winners' acceptance speeches will be done a little differently.
This year's show also falls on Father's Day, something that was not lost on 31-year-old Wilson, a soon-to-be father of three.
"You know, it's going to be Father's Day on the day of the ESPYs and I think about what my dad meant to me and I think about how far I've come and all the lessons he taught me," reflected Wilson of his dad Harrison Wilson, who died 10 years ago from complications from diabetes.
"To [host the ESPYs] on Father's Day, and in the midst of everything that's going on," he continued, "I'm grateful that I had a dad and a father figure that could prepare me for a moment like this."