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Thursday, June 25, 2009
Nominees for ESPY Awards unveiled

ESPN.com news services

Michael Phelps has 14 Olympic gold medals but only one ESPY. That's likely to change after he led the way Wednesday with four nominations for next month's ESPY Awards.

Swimming's most prolific performer is nominated for male athlete, championship performance, record-breaking performance and U.S. male Olympian.

The ESPY Awards honor the best achievements, moments and leading athletes of the previous year. Fans will determine winners in 37 categories through online (www.espys.tv) and mobile phone voting (www.espn.mobi) that begins Thursday and runs through July 11.

The awards will be presented July 15 at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles, with the taped show airing July 19 on ESPN. Actor Samuel L. Jackson will host.

The Arthur Ashe Courage Award will be given to former South African president Nelson Mandela. Dara Torres, who won three silver medals as a 41-year-old swimmer at the Beijing Olympics, will receive the Best Comeback award.

The Jimmy V Award for Perseverance will go to Northern State men's basketball coach Don Meyer, who battled cancer after surviving a near-fatal car accident.

Phelps' only ESPY win came in 2005, when he earned the male Olympic performance honor following his effort at the 2004 Athens Games, where he won six gold medals.

The NBA Finals matchup between Kobe Bryant and LeBron James did not materialize, with James' Cleveland Cavaliers failing to reach the Finals, where Bryant's Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Orlando Magic. Even so, Bryant and James will compete for male athlete honors, along with Phelps and NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson.

Bryant was also nominated for championship performance and NBA player, a category he won last year.

Serena Williams, Candace Parker, Olympic all-around gymnastics champion Nastia Liukin, Olympic swimmer Natalie Coughlin and Connecticut basketball player Maya Moore were nominated for the female athlete award.

Tiger Woods will compete for his record 21st ESPY, in the male golfer category.

The NBA champion Lakers, North Carolina's national champion basketball team, the World Series champion Philadelphia Phillies, the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins, the Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers, and the national champion Connecticut women's basketball team were the best team nominees.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.