While the 2020 ESPY Awards were forced to take on a new appearance due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the excitement, inspiration, and motivation that transpired from the night’s event was far from lost. Among the award winners recognized during the memorable evening included a pair of former Little Leaguers®, as well as a Major League Baseball organization that has continued to help and support local Little League® programs throughout their community.
Billie Jean King Youth Leadership Award: Ally Friedman
A graduate of East Hampton (N.Y.) Little League, Ally Friedman was one of seven young role models who were honored with the Billie Jean King Youth Leadership Award at the 2020 ESPYs, which honors youth who are using the power of sport as a catalyst for change and making a positive impact on society. After her time on the Little League fields, Ally went on to create a program called THE BALL — Tennis, Health, Empowerment, Building Attitudes, Lifetime Lessons — to instill passion for sport and empowerment to young girls in her hometown of East Hampton, New York. The program is geared toward teaching girls between the ages of seven and 12 about health, empowerment, mindfulness, and other skills through using tennis. Growing up, Ally struggled with anxiety and self-confidence, and recognized that tennis can serve as an outlet for girls to develop those skills. Since starting the program, she has developed a curriculum as she hopes to evolve THE BALL into a nonprofit organization so that its model can be easily adapted and scaled for use in other communities.
Congratulations to the honorees of this year’s #SportsHumanitarian @BillieJeanKing Youth Leadership Award presented by @AnthemFDN for all of their incredible work using sports to create social change. pic.twitter.com/xI1rEYfHhy
— ESPN Citizenship (@ESPNCitizenship) June 22, 2020
Arthur Ashe Courage Award: Kevin Love
Growing up, Kevin Love played baseball for Lake Oswego Little League in Portland, Oregon, where he was teammates with fellow NBA superstar, Klay Thompson. During the 2020 ESPY Awards, Mr. Love was honored with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award for his efforts to address mental health issues over the past two years. In 2018, Mr. Love went public about his mental health and wellness experience with a first-person essay titled, “Everyone is Going Through Something” on The Players’ Tribune, telling the world about his panic attacks and anxiety that he has personally had to face. His dedication to address and raise awareness of mental health, along with his professionalism both on and off the court, makes Mr. Love a tremendous role model for young Little Leaguers who face these challenges every day.
“Humbled does not even begin to describe the feeling.”@kevinlove delivers a heartfelt speech after winning the 2020 Arthur Ashe Courage Award for his commitment to growing mental health awareness. #ESPYS pic.twitter.com/EjQdm34ZjD
— ESPN (@espn) June 22, 2020
Sports Humanitarian Team of the Year: Los Angeles Dodgers (Dodgers Dreamfield)
The Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation (LADF) builds and refurbishes baseball and softball fields in underserved communities through the Dodgers Dreamfields program, which provides families across Los Angeles with safe havens and points of pride in their own neighborhoods. Thanks to the support of this program, Little League programs including Culver Marina Youth Baseball Little League and University Little League, have continued to be able to operate and provide the Little League experience to children throughout the Los Angeles community. With 51 fields built since 2003, LADF has provided more than 368,000 youth with access to a safe, playable Dodgers Dreamfield in their neighborhood. To-date, LADF has spent $10.6 million on the Dodgers Dreamfields program. By 2033, LADF plans to complete an additional 24 fields to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Dodgers’ move to Los Angeles.
The Dodgers Dreamfield program has built 51 baseball and softball fields in underserved communities across LA, providing 368,000 youth with access to safe, playable fields.
The @Dodgers are the recipient of the Sports Humanitarian Award.
— ESPN (@espn) June 22, 2020
In addition to the three award winners with ties to the Little League program, a number of Little League graduates joined in on the excitement at the 2020 ESPY Awards, including a congratulations speech to the Class of 2020 from former Little Leaguer Tom Brady and a backyard “Red Carpet Experience” by former Tuckahoe Little Leaguer, Russell Wilson.
NOTE: If you know of someone that we have missed, please e-mail their name, and the name of the city, town, and league where they played Little League, to [email protected]. Feel free to also share your Little League alumni story on social media by tagging @LittleLeague and by using #LLAlumni in your posts.