Justin Timberlake took the stage at the 2016 ESPY Awards to honor former Los Angeles LakerKobe Bryant, Denver Broncos' recent Super Bowl-winning quarterback Peyton Manning and Olympic gold medalist and pro soccer player Abby Wambach for their contributions to their respective sports over the years.
By first reliving each athlete's triumphant career, the audience witnessed three packages highlighting the beginning, middle and end of their journeys. During these clips, fans described memorable moments, achievements, devastating injuries, astonishing comebacks and their last moments in the sport.
Afterwards, Timberlake presented Manning, Wombach and Bryant with the Icon Award.
"This is a great night, and to be recognized along with two legends is very special," Manning said. "Watching those films, all I could think about was how fortunate the three of us, and really of us in this room, are, because really sports wouldn't mean nothing without the fans"
He continued, "Now that my time is up as a player, I'm looking forward to being a fan again."
Wambach echoed similar sentiments, telling the crowd that it's "such an honor to be up here," and then telling her fellow recipients, "you guys are my heroes."
The pro female athlete admitted, "I never wanted to be completely defined by my sport. I wanted people to see who I was underneath...to appreciate me as a person, not just as an athlete," and concludes that she is the most proud of leaving a legacy that promotes equal opportunity.
"I'm excited as I've ever been to see what's next."
Once Kobe was up to speak, he was greeted with crowd chanting his name. "It's amazing to be standing here," he said.
"I have a lot of respect for these two. I know the sacrifices that went along with standing here today...We're up here because we had a dream and let nothing stand in our way…We were never satisfied, never finished, we'll never be retired."
Kobe then shared a quote he always admired that was first given to him by his high school English teacher: "Rest at the end not in the middle."
He said, "I believe there's time for resting at the end, but for me, this is not the end," Bryant exclaimed, noting that he wants to get involved with inspiring the next generation of athletes and sports fans.
On the red carpet, Bryant joked that he's using this time off to work on strengthening his house work. "I'm [working on my] ironing skills and washing the dishes."
His wife, Vanessa, added, "He still needs to learn how to pick up after himself."
"It's [about] having a Mamba mentality carried through house chores as well," Bryant joked.