Zaevion Dobson to receive the Arthur Ashe Award at 2016 ESPYs

Zaevion Dobson, Fulton High School
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Knoxville teen Zaevion Dobson will posthumously receive the Arthur Ashe Award at the 2016 ESPY Awards.

Dobson, 15, died shielding two girls from gunfire in the Lonsdale area of Northwest Knoxville on Dec. 17, 2015.

“The Ashe Award is one of the most prestigious in sports,” according to ESPN.com. “Recipients reflect the spirit of Arthur Ashe, possessing strength in the face of adversity, courage in the face of peril and the willingness to stand up for their beliefs no matter what the cost.”

Dobson’s mother, Zenobia Dobson, will accept the award on his behalf during the July 13 ESPYs ceremony from the Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles, according to The Associated Press. Dobson’s brothers, Zackelyn Dobson and Markastin Taylor, also are expected to attend.

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ESPN has given the Arthur Ashe Award each year since 1993. Zaevion Dobson was a sophomore football player at Fulton High School in Knoxville, and will be the youngest person ever to win the award.

Year Recipient(s)
1993 Jim Valvano
1994 Steve Palermo
1995 Howard Cosell
1996 Loretta Claiborne
1997 Muhammad Ali
1998 Dean Smith
1999 Billie Jean King
2000 William David Sanders
2001 Cathy Freeman
2002 Todd Beamer Mark Bingham Tom Burnett and Jeremy Glick
2003 Pat Tillman and Kevin Tillman
2004 George Weah
2005 Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah and Jim MacLaren
2006 Roia Ahmad and Shamila Kohestani
2007 Trevor Ringland and David Cullen from Peace Players International
2008 Tommie Smith and John Carlos
2009 Nelson Mandela
2010 Family of Ed Thomas
2011 Dewey Bozella
2012 Pat Summitt
2013 Robin Roberts
2014 Michael Sam
2015 Caitlyn Jenner

 

President Barack Obama praised Zaevion Dobson’s actions in January.

"He gave his life to save theirs. An act of heroism a lot bigger than anything we should ever expect from a 15-year-old," Obama said on Jan. 5, 2016.

Days after Zaevion Dobson’s death, Obama said in a tweet, “He was a hero at 15. What's our excuse for not acting?”

"It's a message of hope and sacrifice that everyone can learn from," Fulton High School principal Rob Speas said.

Zaevion Dobson's story, he added, will continue teaching students.

"Our motto at Fulton High School is, 'Enter to learn, go forth to serve,' and we talk a lot about that with our kids," Speas said. "Then you have one of our students that takes that mission and embodies it in such a way, that that will always resonate with our students."

"Zaevion was a special young man and is, six months out, still making a difference in this world and will continue to do that," Fulton's head football coach Rob Black said.

Black said the Ashe Award is going to the right person.

"You know, you speak of the courage award, and, man, it just says 'Zaevion Dobson' when you say 'courage,'" Black said.

Zaevion Dobson was part of the 100 Black Men group in Knoxville, participating in initiatives like Save Our Sons and Stop the Violence. Those are projects working to end the very kind of violence that ultimately claimed Zaevion Dobson's life.

Knoxville police chief David Rausch calls it a tragedy.

"Who knows what he could've become," Rausch said. "His life was cut short, but it was cut short by a split-second decision that showed his character and showed his courage."

Sideline reporter Craig Sager will receive with the Jimmy V Perseverance Award at the 2016 ESPYs. Sager, who is well known for his colorful attire and personality, continues to fight leukemia.

WWE star John Cena will host the 2016 ESPYs.

ABC will broadcast the ESPY Awards on July 13 at 8 p.m. ET.