Zaevion Dobson, a high school football player who was shot to death while shielding two girls from random gunfire, received the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPY Awards.
The 15-year-old Dobson is the youngest person ever to win the award, which has been given annually by ESPN since 1993. The award recognizes individuals who embody the spirit of Ashe, who dedicated his life to human rights advocacy. Past recipients include Caitlyn Jenner, a controversial pick in 2015, Michael Sam, and Robin Roberts.
Knoxville police said the girls shielded by Dobson were unhurt.
After the award was presented posthumously, Dobson was honored by President Obama in a pretaped video message: “Zaevion gave his life to save someone else’s. What’s our excuse for not acting?" Obama said.
"We have to ask ourselves – is this the world we want our kids to grow up in? Are we just going to accept these tragedies as the price of our freedom, and move on? It’s up to all of us to build a country that’s worthy of Zaevion’s promise. That’s what we owe him. That’s what we owe all our kids.”
This is not the first time Obama spoke out on Dobson's courageous actions. Back in January, he closed a speech on gun violence with remarks about Dobson.
"He wasn’t in the wrong place at the wrong time. He hadn’t made a bad decision. He was exactly where any other kid would be. Your kid. My kids. And then gunmen started firing. And Zaevion -- who was in high school, hadn’t even gotten started in life -- dove on top of three girls to shield them from the bullets. And he was shot in the head. And the girls were spared. 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. 'Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends.'"