LOS ANGELES (AP) — Retired NFL safety Steve Gleason, who has been fighting ALS since 2011, will receive the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage at The ESPYS on July 11.

The 47-year-old Gleason spent eight years in the NFL before retiring in 2008. Three years later, he went public with his diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Gleason established his nonprofit, Team Gleason, to help people with ALS live purposeful lives by providing programming and support services. It successfully lobbied for The Steve Gleason Act, which ensures the availability of life-sustaining communication devices in the U.S.

“Over the past 13 years, I’ve been documenting our journey with ALS. My aim has always been to see if we can discover peace, freedom, and a love of life, even in the midst of extreme adversity,” Gleason said in a statement Thursday. “Being recognized at The 2024 ESPYS is not just an honor, but a powerful platform to further help and serve others.”

In 2019, Gleason was awarded a Congressional Gold Medal for his contributions to ALS awareness. Earlier this year, he released his memoir.

During his eight years with the New Orleans Saints, Gleason’s memorable punt block in the team’s first game back after Hurricane Katrina became a symbol of recovery in the city.

The Ashe award is given to a sports person who has made a difference beyond the field of play by fighting for what they believe in. Among the past recipients are the USA Gymnastics sexual abuse survivors, Bill Russell, Kevin Love, Maya Moore, Vitali Klitschko and the U.S. women’s national soccer team.

Serena Williams will host The ESPYS, honoring the past year’s top athletes and sports moments, live on ABC.


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