The 2015 ESPY Awards go down tonight and for the first time ever the show will be broadcast on ABC. Beginning at 8 PM, Joel McHale—who played Jeff Winger on Community—will host this year’s ceremony and a live stream will be available over at WatchESPN. Especially in recent years, the ESPY Awards have been providing a bit of a respite from the traditional award show circuit. The ceremony is generally more lighthearted and funnier than the serious film and music award shows, and now in its 22nd iteration, the ESPY’s are bigger than ever.
With all that in mind we decided to round up some of our favorite ESPY moments ever as a way of prepping for tonight’s show. From hilarious to somber and inspirational, check out some of the best moments the ESPY has had to offer over the years.
Jamie Foxx Roasts Terrell Owens, Gary Payton & Lebron James
Jamie Foxx has hosted the ESPY’s twice and back in 2004 he devoted some of his stage time to a quick roast of athletes including Terrell Owens, Gary Payton, and Lebron James. The routine is perfect for the format and the jokey jabs at the athletes remain a tradition for the show. Watch Jamie “Coach Do Dirty” Foxx in the classic ESPY moment below.
Peyton Manning Stars In The Dark Side With Sandra Bullock
In 2010, with Jon Hamm hosting, Peyton Manning appeared in a sketch that put his deadpan comedic talents to perfect use. With Sandra Bullock just having won an Oscar for The Blind Side, a Manning-featured edit flipped the narrative into a kidnapping story called The Dark Side, and looking back, it’s just the right blend of creepy and funny to work out well.
Drake Impersonates Manny Pacquiao & Teams Up With Blake Griffin
During his hosting last year, Drake starred in a short sketch in which he impersonates Manny Pacquiao trying to kickstart a music career. Of all things, Drake’s Pacquiao is singing a rendition of “Let It Go,” and while the hair and makeup is cheesy enough to laugh at alone, Drake proved himself a reliably comedic host throughout with highlight moments like this one.
Elsewhere in the same show, Drake and Blake Griffin teamed up for a goofy “Drake vs. Blake” (or “Blake vs. Drake”) skit, but it was the Clippers player’s reaction to a joke about then-team owner Donald Sterling that provided the most memorable clip.
Will Ferrell Accepts Best Male Athlete Award On Behalf Of Tiger Woods…Kind Of
It’s hard to tell what you’re gonna get from Will Ferrell on any given day, but at the 2008 ESPY’s he stood in for Tiger Woods and accepted the Best Male Athlete Award in peak form. Calling himself Tiger and bringing some almost Anchorman-like swagger onto stage, Ferrell explained to the crowd how much he impressed himself and basically closed out the show with his speech.
LeBron James Performs “My Prerogative”
The prospect of watching any 6’8″ basketball player dress up like Bobby Brown and perform choreographed dance moves has huge potential. In 2007, LeBron James stole the show for just that reason. The guy really can’t sing well at all, which is why he deserves extra props for going all out. In the process he calls out some haters—”No one can tell me what to do / Stop all the hate and buy my shoes”—and looks like he’s having a great time the whole performance.
Justin Timberlake Owns The 2008 Ceremony
In 2008, Justin Timberlake brought the ESPY’s hosting duties to a new level of showmanship. His opening monologue was consistently hilarious, at times a little provocative, and a model way to round up the year’s controversies leading into the show. Later in the ceremony, Timberlake sang a Broadway-worthy song and then appeared in a sketch where he implanted himself into some of the year’s most memorable sports moments. Check out a couple of the highlights below.
Jimmy Valvano’s Legendary Speech At 1993 Ceremony
As far as emotional sports speeches go, Jimmy V’s tearjerker at the inaugural ESPY ceremonies takes the cake. Valvano spoke at the 1993 ESPY’s at the very end of his life, less than two months before he passed away in April of that year. (The college basketball legend was diagnosed with cancer just short of a year before his death.) At the ESPY’s he struggled to walk out on stage, but once at the podium, Jimmy V gave one of the best speeches in sports history.
Stuart Scott Accepts The Jimmy V Perseverance Award
More than a decade after Jimmy V’s speech in 1993, the ESPY’s established an annual award in his name, the Jimmy V Perseverance Award. Last year, in the midst of his own public battle with cancer, Stuart Scott accepted the award and gave a similarly rousing speech.
“When you die, that does not mean you lose to cancer,” Scott said during his speech. “You beat cancer by how you live, why you live and the manner in which you live.” Earlier this year, upon his passing, those words were some of the first used to remember and celebrate Scott’s legacy.
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