The 2016 ESPY Awards: Emotional Presentation of the ‘Arthur Ashe Award for Courage’ To Zaevion Dobson

Published on July 14th, 2016

The mother of Zaevion Dobson, the 15-year-old football player shot and killed while protecting others, delivered a powerful speech during the 2016 ESPY Awards.

Zaevion’s mother, Zenobia, and brothers, Zackelyn and Markastin [Pictured Above] accepted the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage during the 2016 ESPY Awards on Wednesday night.

There wasn’t a dry eye in the room during the presentation of the annual ESPY Award for courage on Wednesday night.

The honoree, Zaevion Dobson [Picture Above], was a 15-year-old superstar football player of Knoxville, Tenn., who was killed in December 2015 when he shielded three girls from a spray of bullets. Sacrificing himself, he died in the shooting.

To introduce the award, Steph Curry gave a pointed speech against gun violence — a prevalent theme during the annual awards show that opened with a Black Lives Matter call to action from NBA superstars Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James.

“In an average year in America, more than 33,000 people die after getting shot by a gun,” the NBA star said. “Wherever you’re from, whatever you think, whatever your politics are: What you can’t forget is that every one of those people who dies has a story.”

He continued, “[Zaevion] had nothing to do with the bullet that took his life. He and his friends didn’t know the people who killed him or anything about the feud that led to their gunfire. But in a split second, because of his incredible courage, he became part of one of the saddest statistics in America.”

Zaevion’s mother, Zenobia, and brothers, Zackelyn and Markastin, took the stage after a powerful tribute video about the tragedy.

After accepting the award on behalf of their son and brother, Zenobia launched into a powerful speech about gun violence that had nearly every A-list athlete — from Aaron Rodgers to Shaquille O’Neal — listening with tears in their eyes.

“I’d loved to stand up here and tell you more about Zaevion, all the hopes and dreams he had for the future. All the things I dreamt about for him,” she said, before telling the crowd about his cousin who was also killed in a drive-by shooting four months after Zaevion’s death. The 12-year-old was coming home from a basketball game where Zaevion was honored.

“I’m here to fight back,” she said. “We as a country need to take a stand against the effects of gun violence on families throughout America.”

Encouraging all of the people in the room to join the movement to save innocent lives, Zenobia spoke directly to the athletes.

Take a look at the emotional speech below:

 

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