Weah selected for Ashe Award

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Washington to present Arthur Ashe Award  

ESPN release

Two-time Academy Award Winner Denzel Washington, one of Hollywood's most accomplished and respected actors, will attend the 2004 ESPY Awards Presented by GMC and Under Armour. Washington will present the most prestigious award of the evening - the Arthur Ashe Courage Award -- to Liberian soccer star and UNICEF ambassador George Weah. It's given annually to individuals whose contributions transcend sports. The 12th annual ESPY Awards, which gathers athletes and entertainment celebrities to recognize top achievements in sports, will be televised from Hollywood's Kodak Theatre on ESPN Sunday, July 18 at 9 p.m. ET (four days after taking place Wed., July 14).

Washington has garnered critical acclaim for a wide range of roles over the past two decades. He is five-time Oscar nominee, capturing the award for Best Supporting Actor (1990) for Glory and for Best Actor (2002) for Training Day. Other notable films have included Malcolm X, Philadelphia, The Hurricane and Remember the Titans. Washington recently starred in Man on Fire and will be starring in the remake of The Manchurian Candidate (July).

Weah, Africa's all-time greatest soccer star has, at great risk, worked tirelessly to help his war-torn country. While the honor will celebrate Weah's soccer career, it will primarily focus on his life off the field, highlighting his commitment to humanitarian projects all over Africa as an international soccer star. One example is how Weah has used his name and fame to take guns out of the hands of children to try and help save a generation devastated by war.

Parallel to his soccer career, Weah's charitable work, highlighted by his inspiring return missions to Liberia, has gained him the admiration of many, including former South African president Nelson Mandela, who called Weah the 'African Pride'. Immediately following the September 2003 implementation of the United Nations Security Council "Ceasefire Agreement" in Liberia and the subsequent departure of tyrant Charles Taylor from Liberia's presidency, Weah joined forces with UNICEF to help address the problem of reintegrating former young combatants -- by-products of the country's 14-year conflict that turned children into soldiers -- into society.

Weah had become a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 1997 -- working with the UN agency to help fight the spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa through education and to promote vocational training initiatives to rehabilitate child soldiers from war-ravaged countries. Despite the horrible atrocities committed against him by Taylor's followers (destroying his home, stealing his valued possessions and harming members of his extended family), Weah led the Liberian Men's National Soccer Team (Lone Star) as coach, star player and sponsor.

Among the top athletes scheduled to attend the ESPY Awards are Carmelo Anthony, Tom Brady, Serena Williams, Nomar Garciaparra, Mia Hamm, Ray Lewis, Eli and Peyton Manning, Andy Roddick, Lisa Leslie, Dontrelle Willis, Josh Beckett, Diana Taurasi, Tedy Bruschi, Dante Hall, Larry Izzo, Willie McGinest, Steve McNair, Neil Parry and New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick. Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius star Jim Caviezel will also attend. The complete list of celebrity presenters will be announced soon.

The ESPY Awards
The 2004 ESPY Awards Presented by GMC and Under Armour will bring together athletes and entertainment celebrities to recognize top achievements in sports, relive the memorable moments and salute the best performers and performances. Overall, there are 36 award categories, including both sport-specific honors and awards that cross over all sports (cross-cutters), a unique ESPY Awards hallmark. Actor/comedian Jamie Foxx will host.

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