Emotional Caitlyn Jenner accepts Ashe Courage Award at ESPYs

Soccer player Abby Wambach, of the United States women's national soccer team, left, looks on as Caitlyn Jenner accepts the Arthur Ashe award for courage at the ESPY Awards at the Microsoft Theater on Wednesday, July 15, 2015, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

U.S. women’s soccer team wins Best Team award

Associated Press

Caitlyn Jenner accepted the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPYs while urging acceptance for others who are transgender.

Jenner received a standing ovation from the sporting world’s biggest stars after her 10-minute speech Wednesday night during the annual awards honoring the year’s top athletes and moments.

“This transition has been harder on me than anything I can imagine,” said Jenner.

Noting her powerful celebrity platform, the 1976 Olympic decathlon champion vowed “to do whatever I can to reshape the landscape of how transgender people are viewed and treated.”

Jenner says she wants to use her powerful celebrity platform to help transgender people achieve acceptance and urged the audience to learn about people different than themselves.

Abby Wambach of the U.S. soccer team that won the Women’s World Cup — and took home an ESPY as Best Team — presented the trophy to Jenner, whose voice broke as she thanked members of her famous family, including stepdaughters Kim and Khloe Kardashian. Tears welled in the eyes of Jenner’s younger daughter, Kylie, whose sister, Kendall, wiped a tear from her eye.

A video traced Jenner’s life from the time when she was known as Bruce Jenner to her current transition. She was shown applying makeup, buttoning her blouse in her closet and fastening the strap on her heeled shoes.

Before the sports award show, Jenner didn’t walk the red carpet outside, and she didn’t appear backstage to talk with reporters, as most of the previous Ashe award recipients have done.

ESPN said Jenner wanted her onstage comments to stand.

ESPN also honored the late college basketball player Lauren Hill for the best moment.

Hill inspired people with her fight against brain cancer and raised more than $1.5 million for cancer research before she died April 10. The Division III women’s basketball player just wanted to play one game in college.

The NCAA agreed to let Hill’s team, Mount St. Joseph, move up its opening game against Hiram College by two weeks because her condition was deteriorating. Xavier University offered its 10,000-seat arena so more people could attend. Tickets sold out in less than an hour.

She ended up playing in four games and made five layups. LeBron James sent her gifts and tweeted how much of an inspiration she was. James looked on as Hill’s parents accepted the trophy.

“If she were here today standing on this stage, she would ask you not to sit on the bench,” her mother Lisa said. “Please don’t wait until you’re personally affected by cancer to start kicking cancer’s butt.”

There was online backlash when ESPN decided to honor Jenner with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award, with many believing Hill was more deserving.

Hill’s mother told USA Today that she wanted to make it clear to Jenner that her family had nothing to do with the criticism.

Other award winners:

The Cincinnati Bengals’ Devon Still accepted the Jimmy V Perseverance Award honoring his daughter, Leah, who is battling cancer. Leah was too sick to attend the event.

UFC champion Ronda Rousey was awarded the Best Fighter, beating out Floyd Mayweather. Rousey, in accepting the award, said she wondered how Mayweather felt about getting “beat by a woman for once.”

Stephen Curry won the award for Best Male Athlete.