LeBron James, who won his first NBA title this year with the Miami Heat, was named the Male Athlete of the Year while Baylor All-American and NCAA champion Brittney Griner was honored as the Female Athlete of the Year at the 2012 ESPY Awards handed out Wednesday in Los Angeles.
James wasn’t on hand for the 20th annual show celebrating the year’s best athletes and moments in sports. He was in Las Vegas with the rest of the U.S. national team preparing for the London Olympics.
James also won an ESPY for Championship Performance of the Year and for NBA Player of the Year.
James’ Heat were honored as the Team of the Year for their NBA title win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Griner also was honored as the Female College Athlete of the Year.
“Just excited. I wouldn’t be here without Title IX,” Griner said backstage. “Everything is just coming together and it feels good to be here.”
Host Rob Riggle of “The Daily Show” and “The Hangover” fame zinged some of the famous faces in his opening monologue.
He touched on the New Orleans Saints’ bounty scandal in singling out quarterback Drew Brees, who won for record-breaking performance after shattering Dan Marino’s single-season passing mark. Brees and the Saints are haggling over his contract with a Monday deadline looming.
“If only the Saints had some sort of fund that they could pull extra cash from to reward people for doing things on the field,” Riggle cracked as Brees looked down from his seat and the crowd roared.
Riggle teased Anthony Davis of Kentucky, the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft known for his connected eyebrows. Davis recently trademarked the phrases “Fear the Brow” and “Raise the Brow.”
“It looks like two caterpillars just making sweet love on your forehead,” Riggle told Davis. “Is that like one of those Mr. Potato Head eyebrows you just take on and off?”