The Olympic gymnast is being honored at this year’s ESPYs alongside others who spoke out against abuse they suffered at the hands of the former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State team doctor.
Athletes including Aly Raisman, Gus Kenworthy, Mo Bamba, Stefon Diggs and the gold medal-winning U.S. women’s hockey team all traded their jerseys for formal wear as they celebrated heroes at the ESPYs pre-party Tuesday night at the City Market Social House in downtown Los Angeles.
Raisman — sporting a sparkling red, black and blue dress — made the scene the night before she’s set to be honored alongside others who spoke out against abuse they suffered at the hands of former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State team doctor Larry Nassar. Raisman and her fellow survivors are set to receive the ESPYs’ Arthur Ashe Courage Award.
Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, Raisman explained how her testimony against Nassar continues to affect her on a daily basis.
“Right now I’m just trying to take things day by day,” she said. “To be honest, when I spoke out I didn’t realize how many people can relate to my story. I feel like every single day I have survivors coming up to me, whether I’m at the grocery store or the mall or the airport, and people are sharing their stories with me. So I’ve realized that there are so many people out there that can relate and so I want to continue to speak out and call attention to such an important issue.”
Raisman also told THR how she defines a hero: “Anyone that’s a really good person and stands up for something that’’s bigger than themselves and stands up for doing the right thing.”
Meanwhile, fellow ESPYs honoree Jake Wood, a former Marine and University of Wisconsin football player who co-founded Team Rubicon, an organization that goes into natural disaster zones to provide aid and relief to victims, is set to receive this year’s Pat Tillman award.
He spoke to THR about what motivated him to advocate for others. “I just wanted to help people when they needed help the most, and I’m surrounded by people who don’t want to sit on the sidelines,” he said. “They want to help people on their worst day, and I’m just lucky to be one of them to get to lead the effort.”
Olympic silver medalist Kenworthy told THR what it’s like to be viewed as a role model after competing as one of the only openly gay athletes in this year’s Winter Olympics.
“I think it’s incredible,” he said. “That’s what you hope for as an athlete is to make an impact on people, and I think that so much comes along with that. So much responsibility and coming out publicly stuck me into a role that I take very seriously.”
At the party, newly drafted NBA rookie Bamba walked around starstruck experiencing his first taste of Hollywood glamour while the U.S. men’s curling team members were clearly enjoying the adulation they were receiving as gold-medal winners.