Thomases to be honored at ESPYS

The Thomas family of Parkersburg, Iowa, will receive the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 2010 ESPYS, it was announced Wednesday.

Aplington-Parkersburg coach Ed Thomas -- known for his winning program and town leadership -- was shot to death on June 24, 2009, by Mark Becker, one of his former players who has paranoid schizophrenia.

In March, Becker was found guilty of first-degree murder. In April, he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The Thomas family has kept its bond with Becker's family despite Ed Thomas' killing.

The Thomas family was chosen to receive the award for its ability to forgive, despite its tragic loss.

"Our family is humbled and honored to be selected as the Arthur Ashe Courage Award winner," Aaron Thomas, one of Ed Thomas' sons, said in a statement. "To be mentioned in the same sentence as the past winners is more than anything our family could have imagined. This award is a great testament to the type of man my father was. We are merely following his example and what he would expect. Even through the toughest of times, we know how my dad would have handled the situation. We are humbled and honored to receive this award."

The Arthur Ashe Courage Award is given annually to individuals who transcend sports.

"The Thomas family showed us how people can come together under extraordinary circumstances that would normally drive them apart," John Skipper, ESPN executive vice president, content, said in a statement. "For that reason, we honor the Thomas family as the recipient of the 2010 Arthur Ashe Courage Award."

The ESPYS will be televised live at 9 p.m. ET July 14 on ESPN.