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Now that the trailblazing careers of Kobe Bryant, Abby Wambach and Peyton Manning have come to an end, the ESPYs recognized the trio with the Icon Award on Wednesday night. Justin Timberlake presented the honor to the athletes who each reflected on their record-breaking careers.
Manning expressed that he and his fellow recipients’ careers would be nothing without their fans. His statement was confirmed by the chants from the audience for Bryant before he began to speak. The retired NBA star then joked about the Los Angeles Lakers‘ not-so-successful past season.
“Abby decided to retire after a compelling World Cup victory. Peyton hung up his cleats after yet another Super Bowl win. For me, I tend to do things a little differently. I felt an impressive 17-for-65 season would be a bold statement to wrap up my 20-year career,” said Bryant.
He continued: “I believe there’s time for resting at the end, but for me that time is not now. Thank you for this tremendous honor in acknowledging my basketball career, but I’m far from done. My next dream is to be honored one day for inspiring the next generation of athletes to have a dream, sacrifice for it and never ever rest in the middle.”
During her speech, Wambach touched on the importance of athletes to make an impression both on and off the field.
“We’re willing to be true to ourselves and speak up when there’s something to say,” she said. “Whether it’s about equitable pay, or any issue about fairness and injustice. … I’m proud of being part of that legacy, standing in front of you today, true to myself and knowing that I’ve left the game better than I’ve found it.”
The 2016 ESPYs aired live Wednesday night on ABC from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.
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