Former First Lady Michelle Obama took to the stage at ESPN’s 2017 ESPY Awards on Wednesday, July 12, in Los Angeles to pay tribute to and present the Arthur Ashe Courage Award posthumously to Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver. The former first lady was stunning in a gorgeous, long-sleeve, tight-fitting, below-the-knee black Cushnie Et Ochs Larissa dress, with a daring cutout neckline, and bondage-style heels.
Shriver, who died in August of 2009 at the age of 88, was honored posthumously for her work in founding the Special Olympics. Michelle Obama paid tribute to Shriver and presented the award that was accepted by her son, Timothy Shriver, who is the chairman of the Special Olympics.
She had to wait for several moments to allow the applause to die down before delivering her tribute to Eunice Kennedy Shriver.
“I am here tonight to honor a remarkable woman, a woman who believed everyone has something to contribute, and everyone deserves the chance to push themselves and find out what they are made of and to compete and win,” Michelle said.
“She knew when we gave others the greatest chance to fulfill their potential, we all win,” Michelle continued. “So nearly 50 years ago, she created the Special Olympics, and over the course of her life she turned that visionary idea into a worldwide movement with competitions across the globe.”
She ended her speech by stressing the need to make the world “more inclusive, welcoming, and fair” for everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, and gender.
After her introductory remarks, Special Olympics Chairman Timothy Shriver, 57, came on stage to accept the Arthur Ashe Courage Award on behalf of his mother.
“Eunice Kennedy Shriver was a passionate champion for those with developmental challenges, empowering them to fulfill their highest potential.”
Tim Shriver received the award and thanked Michelle Obama for her work “to level the playing field.”
“Once a great First Lady, always a great First Lady,” he said.
In his acceptance speech, he urged that the only way to overcome prejudice and discrimination was to welcome and accept differences. He said his mother dedicated her life to promoting inclusion and that her work transformed the lives of thousands of people. He added that Special Olympics was her contribution to “fight hate in our country.”
“Special Olympics athletes are not a cause. They have the power. Follow them. Learn from them.”
ESPN’s Arthur Ashe Courage award is named after Arthur Ashe, the tennis player who won three Grand Slams. After contracting AIDS from a blood transfusion he contributed to the fight against the spread of the viral disease. The award named after him is meant to honor achievers who have shown courage and character through their work and contribution to humanity.
[Featured Image by Chris Pizzello/AP Images]