The actor-turned-rapper opened the show with thoughts on LeBron James Cleveland homecoming ("Do you know what $40 million buys you in Cleveland? Cleveland!"), a jab at Donald Sterling ("We're about 100 yards away from the Staples center, which is about as close as Donald Sterling can get,") and jokes for Richard Sherman ("Richard Sherman pissed off more white people this year than a crowded parking lot at Whole Foods.") He also flashed Texas Rangers first baseman Prince Fielder's ESPN Body Issue cover on the big screen and asked, "I hear that you're vegan — did you start yesterday?!"
Drake also poked fun at Indiana Pacers player Lance Stevenson's viral moment when he was caught trying to psych out Miami Heat's LeBron James by blowing in his ear. He set up the "Lance Cam" on the screen to give Stevenson a taste of his own medicine, plus a "double Lance Cam" for his teammate, Paul George.
Seattle Seahawks' Richard Sherman nabbed the breakthrough athlete honor, and noted in his speech that "I appreciate the award, I appreciate being nominated, it was a lot of had work. … Seahawks, we do our thing." He also gave a shoutout to Floyd Mayweather and asked for follows on Twitter.
Drake and Blake
Drake and Blake Griffin also appeared in an extensive sketch compilation, in which they also impersonated each other: Griffin pretended to record a new track full of gibberish and a line that read, "I tell people I'm half-black, but really, I don't know;" Drake sat in a Grantland interview and confessed, "I kind of look like a black guy that jumped into a pit of Cheetos and just laid for like ten days, and then popped off."
Chris Brown Is Around
After the skit, the Clippers player announced that he was taking over the night's hosting duties. Then, Chris Brown awkwardly popped out from behind him and said, "And I'm your new co-host, America's sweetheart, Chris Brown." Griffin noted that Drake left because "he didn't want to host anymore and hated you all," but he was then shown as tied up backstage.
The moment when U.S.A. beat Ghana in the World Cup was deemed the best sports moment of the year. When captain Clint Dempsey took the stage with members of the U.S. men's national team, the Nokia Theatre crowd erupted into a "U.S.A." chant. "Outside of Brazil, U.S. was the most tickets sold," he said. "Just seeing how far the game has come out here — hopefully it continues in that fashion."
Pat Tillman Service Award
U.S. Paralympic sled hockey team athlete Josh Sweeney was awarded the first-ever Pat Tillman award for service. In his speech, he thanked "the individuals who do pay the ultimate price so we can live in freedom," as Sweeney initially lost his legs while in combat.
Introducing Floyd Mayweather
"Floyd Mayweather is coming out next — Floyd told us he had to be introduced in a very specific way," said Drake, as he was forced to stand behind a podium between two trumpeters. He read Mayweather's (real and fake) accolades with an accent and from a scroll, as a red carpet was rolled out an a group of security detail surrounded him, which Drake referred to as "the T.I. treatment."
The Iron Bowl college football match Auburn vs. Alabama was noted as the best game of the year.
Best Record-Breaking Performance
After introductions from Dan Marino and Kevin Durant, Peyton Manning accepted the record-breaking performance award, "not just for one record, but for the best season any quarterback has ever had," said Marino. "I won my first ESPY in 1998, college player of the year, and I received that award from Tyra Banks that night. I didn’t' think it'd get any better than that, but I promise you, this tops that!" said Manning, who then thanked his Broncos teammates "who make it fun for a 38-year-old to come to work every day."
Second-Best, Side Pieces and Sterling
Drake hilariously debuted three sports-themed tracks. First, "Honorable Mention" honored the second-place names of sports like 49ers' Colin Kaepernick and Nascar's Danica Patrick, also joking about how his music talent doesn't win himself Grammys. After shouting out to the players' spouses, he sang about "the real glue that holds the sports world together" — "Side Pieces," a track about the affairs athletes have while on the road, and also featuring Brian McKnight. A final track was inspired by "the side piece of the year — the elegant, the beautiful, the discreet, V. Stiviano," complete with a music video showing auto-tuned clips of Donald Sterling's interviews and the hashtag #SterlingNeverLovedUs.
Arthur Ashe Courage Award
Michael Samreceived the Arthur Ashe courage award following his groundbreaking decision to come out and become the NFL's first openly gay player. Quoting Arthur Ashe, he said, "'Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can,' … Those were the words to live by, whether you're black or white, young or old, straight or gay." He added, "I promise to spend the rest of my life trying to live up to this honor and trying to become the best football player I can," and to those "who are feeling like they don't fit in and will never be accepted, please know this: great things can happen when you have the courage to be yourself."
"Let It Go"
Drake imitated Manny Pacquiao's music career efforts, as he impersonated him in a recording studio and recording "Let It Go" from Disney's Frozen with a Filipino accent. Gary Cole appeared in the sketch as a record producer, complete with a ponytail.
Boos and Rockets
New York Giants' Victor Cruz received brief boos upon taking the stage with The Big Bang Theory's Jim Parsons, but he then pointed out that the actor from Texas-born actor plays a scientist who works with rockets, which is the mascot for the Houston basketball team — all of which made Parsons feel complete. When asked if he was actually as smart as his character, Sheldon Cooper, Parsons responded, "No, hell no."
San Diego Chargers' Chris Davis took home the award for best play in the Iron Bowl game, in which he played for the Auburn Tigers.
'Can I Diggin'
Drake read a pun-filled poem for WNBA player Skylar Diggins of the Tulsa Shock, who then came onstage, rolling her eyes. "Lordy, lordy, Michael Jordy," the host said upon seeing her, and asked for a kiss for his "craziness" crush to end. She reluctantly agreed, and after gurgling mouthwash and applying lip balm, Drake closed his eyes, while she faked him out and kissed him on the forehead. "I'll take what I can get!"
Best Comeback Athlete
Oklahoma City Thunder's Russell Westbrook accepted the comeback athlete award.
Jimmy V Perseverance Award
ESPN anchor Stuart Scott accepted the Jimmy V Perseverance Award for his ongoing battle with cancer since 2007. "I just got out of the hospital; I had four surgeries in the span of seven days, I had tubes running through every part of my body," he revealed. "When you die, it does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, while you live and the manner in which you live."
Drake came out wearing a colorful outfit, and joked, "I'm wearing the latest from the Russell Westbrook collection: Westbrook, exotic fabrics form Oklahoma City for the grown man who wants to look like a walking bag of Skittles."
Best Male Athlete
Oklahoma City Thunder's Kevin Durant won best male athlete, and thanked his family, and his "favorite teammate in the world, Russell Westbrook."
Before Robin Roberts presented the award for best team, she announced that Stand Up 2 Cancer is donating $4 million to The V Foundation.
Super Bowl champs Seattle Seahawks took home the award for best team.
Drake closed the awards show by dedicating the night to his mentor and friend, Jamie Foxx, who he said gave him the confidence to take on the night.
Therapy? Yep, the 'Still Alice' star has had plenty. And now, today, the onetime outsider is a five-time Oscar nominee who also believes in family and the ability to control her own fate: "I've completely created my own life. Structure, it's all imposed." Watch video