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Athletes with a disability to receive Ashe Award  

ESPN Press Release

The prestigious Arthur Ashe Courage Award will be presented to Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah and Jim MacLaren, two disabled athletes who embody the toughness of spirit and never-give-up attitude that are the hallmarks of the award and its namesake, at The 2005 ESPY Awards. Oprah Winfrey will present the award to both gentlemen when ESPN televises the 13th annual industry-wide sports celebration hosted by Matthew Perry on Sunday, July 17 at 9 p.m. ET from Hollywood's Kodak Theatre.

Yeboah, subject of the soon-to-be-released documentary film Emmanuel's Gift, is originally from Ghana, a country where disability has historically been stigmatized to appalling levels. Born with a severely deformed right leg and faced with near-constant struggle, Yeboah has dedicated his life to changing perceptions of the disabled in his homeland. He earned worldwide acclaim when he embarked on a quest to bicycle across Ghana -- a distance of over 370 miles, with one leg -- in a journey that is documented in the film.

MacLaren has survived two would-be fatal accidents and risen to all the challenges that life has put in his path. A Yale graduate and a former All-American lacrosse and football player, MacLaren was hit by a New York City bus at age 22 and lost a leg. After the accident he battled back to become a top marathoner and Ironman triathlete, racing against and beating able-bodied competition, and earning the rank of the fastest amputee athlete in the world. Eight years after the first accident he was struck again, this time by a van during a triathlon, and became an incomplete quadriplegic. Battling back once more, MacLaren has become a motivational speaker. His amazing story and positive, courageous attitude now inspires others to greatness.

The Arthur Ashe Courage Award is presented annually to individuals whose contributions transcend sports. Last year the award was presented to George Weah, the Liberian-born soccer legend who led his national team to greatness, at great personal and financial risk, in the midst of that nation's political upheaval. In 2003 the award went to Pat and Kevin Tillman, brothers who gave up professional sports careers to serve their country by enlisting in the U.S. Army. (Pat Tillman was killed in combat April 22, 2004 in Afghanistan). In 2002, the Ashe Award was given to Todd Beamer, Mark Bingham, Tom Burnett and Jeremy Glick, four passengers who lost their lives September 11th on United Flight 93. Previous recipients include: Jim Valvano (1993), Steve Palermo (1994), Howard Cosell (1995), Loretta Claiborne (1996), Muhammad Ali (1997), Dean Smith (1998), Billie Jean King (1999), Dave Sanders (2000) and Olympian Cathy Freeman (2001).

The ESPY Awards
The ESPY Awards gather top celebrities from sports and entertainment to commemorate the past year in sports by recognizing major sports achievements, reliving unforgettable moments and saluting the leading performers and performances. And for the second year in the event's 13-year history, fans will determine the winners in all categories.

The 2005 ESPY Awards will include both sport-specific awards such as Best MLB Player and Best Women's Tennis Player and distinguishing cross-cutter awards, categories that pit different sports against each other, such as Best Team or Best Female Athlete. In addition, the Arthur Ashe Courage Award is presented annually to individuals whose contributions transcend sports. The ESPY Awards are committed to the advancement of The V Foundation for Cancer Research, established by ESPN with the late Jim Valvano and announced at the inaugural ESPY Awards in 1993.

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