Victims of Larry Nassar, led by three-time Olympic champion Aly Raisman, have been honored with the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage in recognition of their efforts to come forward with stories of sexual abuse.
A total of 141 athletes who suffered sexual abuse at the hands of former US Gymnastics team doctor Nassar gathered on the stage at the annual ESPY Awards ceremony in the Staples Center in Los Angeles to receive the honor on Wednesday. It is presented to those whose contributions have made an essential impact beyond sports.
The women held hands and hugged each other in an emotional act of solidarity, as they came onto the stage to address the audience which welcomed them with thunderous applause and a standing ovation.
"It is a privilege to stand up here today with my sister survivors as we represent hundreds more who are not with us tonight," said gymnast Sarah Klein, the first person known to have been assaulted by the disgraced doctor, Reuters reported.
"Make no mistake. We are here on this stage to present an image for the world to see – a portrait of survival, a new vision of courage," she added.
Klein, softball player Tiffany Thomas Lopez and Olympic gold medalist Raisman delivered emotional speeches on behalf of the 141 survivors attending the ceremony.
"We persisted and finally someone listened and believed us,” Raisman said during annual the ceremony.
“To all the survivors out there, don't let anyone rewrite your story. Your truth does matter, you matter, and you are not alone,” she added.
Nassar, who had worked for nearly 30 years as the US gymnastics team physician, was given up to 175 years in prison after pleading guilty to molesting under-aged gymnasts under the guise of medical treatment.