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2006 ESPY Awards


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Armstrong, Sorenstam ESPY's Top Athletes

by Beth Harris

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Lance Armstrong

LOS ANGELES, California -- Lance Armstrong cracked risque jokes as the first athlete to host the ESPY Awards, then picked up his fourth consecutive male athlete of the year trophy on Wednesday, July 12. Armstrong hosted the 2006 ESPY Awards in Los Angeles which will air later in the week on Sunday, July 16 on ESPN.

"It wasn't rigged, I promise," he told the Kodak Theatre audience after receiving his silver trophy from singer Mariah Carey. Armstrong beat out fellow nominees Albert Pujols, LeBron James, Shaun Alexander and recently drafted Texas quarterback Vince Young.

It was the cyclist's first appearance at the ESPN show honoring the year's best sports moments and athletes. He's usually riding in the Tour de France this time of year, but Armstrong retired after winning his record seventh championship last summer.

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Comedian Will Ferrell

Armstrong singled out some of the superstar athletes in the audience during his monologue, including Olympic skier Bode Miller, who was criticized for partying hearty during the Turin Games. "Bode Miller is here, totally sober," Armstrong cracked. "He only drinks when he races."

Comedian Will Ferrell interrupted Armstrong's acceptance speech to sing the 1970s song "Times of Your Life" with lyrics rewritten for Armstrong. "You've beat the best, let's not forget every urine test," Ferrell crooned.

After Ferrell introduced a white-suited astronaut that the comic insisted was Armstrong's long-lost father, Neil Armstrong, Lance Armstrong retorted, "Neil Armstrong is not my dad and I don't even think that's Neil Armstrong." Ferrell volleyed back before plowing on with the musical parody, "Well said."

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Annika Sorenstam

Golfer Annika Sorenstam repeated as best female athlete, her eighth career ESPY. She defeated nominees snowboarder Hannah Teter, WNBA player Sheryl Swoopes and race car driver Melanie Troxel.

"A lot of great memories are coming back to me. I had a fantastic time last year," Sorenstam said in a taped acceptance. "There are so many great athletes in the world out there and to receive another ESPY is beyond my dreams."

Tiger Woods won as best golfer, earning his record 17th ESPY. The Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers won as best team, while Bill Cowher earned coach-manager honors.

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Ben Roethlisberger

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger joined his teammates and Cowher onstage to accept the team award in his first public appearance since his motorcycle crash last month. Roethlisberger didn't appear backstage to talk to reporters.

Actor/Presenter Mark Wahlberg took a jab at Roethlisberger's accident, warning Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade not to ride a motorcycle this offseason. Wade smiled sheepishly in the audience.

Pujols, the St. Louis Cardinals' first baseman, Alexander and snowboarder Shaun 'The Flying Tomato' White were double winners. Pujols won for baseball player and international athlete; Alexander earned NFL player and record-breaking performance honors and White was chosen U.S. Olympian and male action sport athlete.

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Jason McElwain

The best moment award went to Jason McElwain, the autistic manager of his upstate New York high school's basketball team, who scored 20 points in barely four minutes as a substitute. McElwain beat out Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant's 81-point game last season.

The Arthur Ashe Courage Award was presented to Shamila Kohestani and Roia Noor Ahman, representing young women who play in organized soccer leagues in post-Taliban Afghanistan.

A special ESPY was presented to the boys' basketball team from John Ehret High in Marrero, Louisiana. After Hurricane Katrina, the team was patched together and went on to win the state title.

The cable network said a record 12.1 million votes were tabulated, with fans voting online to decide the winners for the third consecutive year. The awards will be shown Sunday night on ESPN.

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14th Annual ESPY Award Winners

Best Male Athlete of the Year

Lance Armstrong

Best Female Athlete of the Year

Annika Sorenstam

Best Team of the Year

Pittsburgh Steelers

Best Coach-Manager of the Year

Bill Cowher

Pittsburgh Steelers

Best Comeback of the Year

Tedy Bruschi

New England Patriots

Best Breakthrough Athlete of the Year

Chris Paul

New Orleans Hornets

Best Game of the Year

Southern California vs. Texas

Rose Bowl

Best Record-Breaking Performance of the Year

Shaun Alexander

Seattle Seahawks

Best Championship Performance of the Year

Vince Young

Quarterback

Texas

Best Play of the Year

Tyrone Prothro

Receiver

Alabama

Best Sports Movie of the Year

"Glory Road"

Best Male College Athlete of the Year

Reggie Bush

Running Back

Southern California

Best Female College Athlete of the Year

Cat Osterman

Softball Pitcher

Texas

Best Moment of the Year

Jason McElwain

Greece-Athena (N.Y.) High School Basketball

Best Male Action Sport Athlete of the Year

Shaun White

Snowboarder

Best Female Action Sport Athlete of the Year

Hannah Teter

Snowboarder

Best Male Athlete With A Disability

Bobby Martin

Football Player

Best Female Athlete With a Disability

Sarah Reinertsen

Triathlete

Best U.S. Olympian

Shaun White

Snowboarder

Best International Athlete of the Year

Albert Pujols

St. Louis Cardinals

Best Baseball Player of the Year

Albert Pujols

St. Louis Cardinals

Best NBA Player of the Year

Dwyane Wade

Miami Heat

Best WNBA Player of the Year

Sheryl Swoopes

Houston Comets

Best NFL Player of the Year

Shaun Alexander

Seattle Seahawks

Best NHL Player of the Year

Jaromir Jagr

New York Rangers

Best Angler of the Year

Tammy Richardson

Best Bowler of the Year

Walter Ray Williams Jr.

Best Boxer of the Year

Oscar De La Hoya

Best Driver of the Year

Tony Stewart

Best Golfer of the Year

Tiger Woods

Best Jockey of the Year

Edgar Prado

Best MLS Player of the Year

Landon Donovan

Los Angeles Galaxy

Best Footballer of the Year

Ronaldinho

Brazil

Best Male Tennis Player of the Year

Roger Federer

Best Female Tennis Player of the Year

Venus Williams

Best Male Track and Field Athlete of the Year

Justin Gatlin

Best Female Track and Field Athlete of the Year

Allyson Felix

Best Professional Grade Play of the Year

Doug Flutie

New England Patriots

Best Undeniable Performance of the Year

Kobe Bryant

Los Angeles Lakers

Arthur Ashe Courage Award

Afghanistan Female Soccer Players

Special ESPY Teamwork Award

John Ehret High School Basketball Team

Marrero, Louisiana

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