From left, Arthur Ashe courage award winner Robin Roberts and presenter LeBron James walk off stage at the ESPY Awards on Wednesday, July 17, 2013, at Nokia Theater in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
LOS ANGELES (AP) —The Arthur Ashe Courage award at the ESPY Awards went to “Good Morning America” co-anchor Robin Roberts, who underwent a bone marrow transplant last fall to treat a life-threatening blood and bone marrow disease. She was off work for five months before returning to her TV job. Miami Heat star LeBron James presented Roberts with the award, and first lady Michelle Obama saluted her via video.
Roberts received a standing ovation and noted her friendship with the late Ashe.
“At this moment I’m filled with such gratitude,” she said.
James padded his trophy collection, receiving three at the ESPY Awards, including male athlete of the year for helping the Miami Heat win a second straight NBA championship.
James also won in the championship performance and NBA player categories, completing a sweep of the three awards he won last year. He shared in the best team award Wednesday night.
“We went through so much adversity,” teammate Ray Allen said. “We did everything we could to fight, scratch and claw to put ourselves in that moment.”
James beat out Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson and Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps for male athlete honors.
James mentioned his fellow nominees, then told them, “This is for all four of us, man, but I’m just keeping it at my house.”
Serena Williams won two awards, including female athlete of the year. She defeated a pair of Olympians, gymnast Gabby Douglas and swimmer Missy Franklin, and former Baylor basketball star Brittney Griner. Williams didn’t attend because she’s playing a tournament in Sweden.
Peterson and Phelps also won two awards each.
Jon Hamm, the star of AMC’s “Mad Men” and a noted St. Louis Cardinals fan, hosted the 21st annual show from the Nokia Theatre.
He joked it was “the world’s largest gathering of people wearing sunglasses indoors” as the cameras caught James and NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick behind shades.
Hamm got in some digs about former Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard.
“We thought it would be nice to honor Dwight Howard with his greatest moments with the Lakers,” Hamm said as no film clips appeared on the screen behind him while the crowd laughed.
Hamm noted the talk about possible suspensions resulting from baseball’s latest drug investigation has included Alex Rodriguez.
“That’s OK, Yankee fans are used to him not showing up for the second half of the season,”he joked.
Quarterback Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M won male college athlete honors after flying in earlier from Hoover, Ala., where he attended SEC media day. Griner, who now plays for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, won female college athlete.
Peterson won trophies for NFL player and best comeback, while Cabrera won as best MLB player.
Williams won female tennis player, giving her eight career ESPYs.
Phelps also claimed best male Olympian, while teenage swimming sensation Missy Franklin won best female Olympian.
Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers won as breakthrough athlete. Rick Pitino won as coach-manager for guiding the Louisville Cardinals to a national basketball championship.
The best game was Game 6 of the NBA finals between the Heat and San Antonio Spurs.
The award for best upset went to Florida Gulf Coast’s men’s basketball team, a No. 15 seed that upset No. 2 seed Georgetown in the NCAA tournament.
The best moment award singled out 7-year-old Jack Hoffman’s 69-yard touchdown run at Nebraska’s spring game in April, which was replayed on national TV and viewed more than 2 million times on YouTube. The boy from Atkinson, Neb., has brain cancer.
As his father spoke, Jack held the big trophy that blocked part of his face.
Sidney Crosby won NHL player, while Thierry Henry of the New York Red Bulls won MLS player.
South Carolina football player Jadeveon Clowney won best play for his hit on Michigan’s Vincent Smith in which he knocked the runner on his back with a helmet-toppling smack, then reached out with one hand to snare the ball.
Helping out Hamm with comedy bits were Jack McBrayer of “30 Rock” as a befuddled NFL replacement referee and Jay Pharoah of “Saturday Night Live” as Jay-Z explaining how in his new gig as a sports agent he only represents winners.
Former “SNL” star Bill Hader spoofed Russian president Vladimir Putin, who was accused by New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft of stealing his 2005 Super Bowl ring.
In the bit, Hader showed off his other sports collectibles, including the Stanley Cup, some of Phelps’ Olympic gold medals and “the ring Kobe gave his wife that one time for no reason.”
The Jimmy V Award for Perseverance was given to father-and-son duo Dick and Rick Hoyt by actor-director Ben Affleck. The younger Hoyt was born with cerebral palsy and is unable to use his hands and legs. His 73-year-old father Dick pushes him in a custom-made running chair, and together they have participated in more than 1,000 endurance events, including 31 Boston Marathons.
“I don’t think you could find two guys more proud to represent the city of Boston,” Dick Hoyt said.
His son spoke through computer-generated voice technology, saying, “I can’t hardly believe we are here. Thirty-seven years ago nobody would even talk to us … It only proves the wisdom of Jimmy v’s words, ‘Don’t give up, don’t ever give up.'”
The winners in most categories were determined by fan voting.