×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

ESPYs: Justin Timberlake Presents Kobe Bryant, Peyton Manning, Abby Wambach With Icon Award

First the first time, the ESPYs honored three retiring athletes on Wednesday night, with Justin Timberlake presenting the Icon Award to the trio.

Ex-Denver Bronco Peyton Manning, former Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant and Olympic gold medalist and soccer player Abby Wambach received the honor at the annual awards show. All three were on hand to accept the award in person.

“Kobe, Peyton, Abby: Before they all decided to say goodbye this past year, they had a lot in common,” Timberlake said in his speech. “They were touted as stars from the start.”

“Good would’ve been a disappointment,” he went on. “Even great would’ve underwhelmed.”

It then showed clips of some of the athletes’ greatest moments — and worst, including Wambach’s head injury, Petyon’s neck injury and Bryant’s several medical setbacks. But, as the clips showed, the stars rose again.

“Their primes were as great, as legendary as any in history,” Timberlake said. “Super Bowl titles, Olympic gold medals, NBA championships, obliterated records. These are the achievements that are supposed to make you immortal.”

“They just stapled her head. Sorry, that just hit me,” Timberlake added of Wambach’s head injury, eliciting laughs from the audience.

The trio then took the stage, with Manning calling out the fans. “Sports would be nothing without the fans,” he said. “The Super Bowl wouldn’t mean anything, the World Cup wouldn’t mean anything, the NBA Finals wouldn’t mean anything without the fans. I’m looking forward to having a great time being a fan again.”

Wambach called Manning and Bryant her “heroes” before launching into her speech.

“For me, it was never about trying to be the best in the world, or scoring more goals than anyone else,” she said. “It was about being the best that I could. I wanted people to see who was.”

“We’re willing to be true to ourselves and speak up when there’s something to say,” she added.

Chants of “Kobe, Kobe, Kobe” rang out in the audience when it was Bryant’s turn. And the legendary NBA player may be retired from the game, but if his speech was any indication, he’s not done yet.

“I felt an impressive 17 for 65 season would be a bold way to wrap up my 20-year career,” Bryant joked, comparing his less-than-speculator final season with Manning and Wambach’s strong exits.

“We’re not on this stage just because of talent and ability, but because of 4 a.m., two-a-days and not letting anything stand in our way,” Bryant went on. “We were never satisfied, finished — we’ll never be retired.”

“I believe there’s time for resting at the end, but for me, that time is not now,” he concluded.

The ESPYs, hosted by John Cena, are airing live from the Microsoft Theatre in L.A. on ESPN.

Popular on Variety

More Biz

  • Leaving Neverland HBO

    Judge Sides With Michael Jackson Estate in 'Leaving Neverland' Dispute

    A federal judge is leaning towards granting the Michael Jackson estate’s move to take HBO to arbitration in its dispute over the documentary “Leaving Neverland.” Judge George Wu issued a tentative ruling on Thursday in which he denied HBO’s motion to dismiss the estate’s case. Wu is expected to make the ruling final by the [...]

  • Homecoming

    Peak Storytelling Here as Podcasts, Short Form Ride New Wave

    The concept of peak TV is nothing new. But scratch the surface of original content these days, and it’s no longer about television — from podcasts and short-form video, storytelling itself is at a peak. Thanks to audio, video and other new platform companies including Gimlet, Quibi, Wondery, iHeartMedia and Serial Box, listeners and viewers [...]

  • Patti Smith Cambridge Folk Festival

    Patti Smith Muses Over the Many Ways to Tell a Story

    It’s Sept. 11, and Patti Smith has been thinking a lot about people who died. This is understandable. It is, of course, the 18th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, and an annual time of mourning for New York City, the city that Smith adopted as her hometown 50-plus years [...]

  • Hopper Reserve

    Dennis Hopper's Dying Wish: His Own Strain of Marijuana

    Even as celebrity brands are starting to flood the emerging Cannabis market, Hopper Reserve stands out. The brand was launched by Marin Hopper, Dennis Hopper’s daughter from his marriage to Brooke Hayward. Hopper Reserve is a gram of California indoor-grown flower, two packs of rolling papers, a pair of matches and a trading card either [...]

  • Snoop Dogg Weed

    In the Cannabis Business, Not All Star Strains Are Created Equal

    With the cannabis green rush in full swing, many celebrities are jumping into the fray with their own brands, including such well-known stoners as Willie Nelson, Snoop Dogg and Tommy Chong. But as it turns out, not all star strains are created equal, so we assembled a trio of crack experts to put the product [...]

  • Richard Branson Jason Felts

    Kaaboo Festival Acquired by Virgin Fest Owner Jason Felts

    Kaaboo, which says it has “shifted the music festival paradigm by offering a highly amenitized festival experience for adults,” is now under new ownership. Virgin Fest founder and CEO Jason Felts (pictured above with Virgin founder Richard Branson) has fully acquired all of the festival brand assets through an affiliate of Virgin Fest, the music [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content