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NOMINEES ANNOUNCED

6/28/2006

NOMINEES ANNOUNCED AND FAN VOTING BEGINS
FOR 14TH ANNUAL ESPYS
Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Seattle and University of Texas with Multiple Nods; Seven-time Winner Annika Sorenstam up for Two More; Peyton Manning and Lauren Jackson go for Three-peat; Shaun Alexander, Albert Pujols, Vince Young, Kobe Bryant, Hannah Teter and Shaun White with Trio of Bids; Dwyane Wade, James Blake and Soccer Great Ronaldinho Double Up
ESPN will Televise the 14th Annual Sports Celebration from Hollywood's Kodak Theatre Sunday, July 16, 2006 at 9 p.m. ET

Nominees for The 2006 ESPYS Co-presented by GMC and Under Armour have been announced. Los Angeles-area teams and their players lead all other cities with 12 nominations, with strong showings out of Austin, Texas, Pittsburgh, Miami, Chicago, Seattle and St. Louis. ESPYS host Lance Armstrong is in contention to win his fourth-straight award in the Best Male Athlete category – that is, if he can withstand the pressure from fellow nominees Vince Young, Shaun Alexander, LeBron James and Albert Pujols. Not to be outdone by the men, up for Best Female Athlete in 2006 are seven-time ESPY winner Annika Sorenstam, NHRA driver Melanie Troxel, three-time WNBA MVP Sheryl Swoopes and snowboarder Hannah Teter. Athletes receiving the most individual nods are Teter, Alexander, Pujols, Young, snowboarder Shaun White and Kobe Bryant with three each, while Peyton Manning and Lauren Jackson each try to collect their third trophy. Armstrong will be the first athlete to host The ESPYS when ESPN televises the 14th annual industry-wide sports celebration Sunday, July 16 at 9 p.m. ET.

The 2006 ESPYS will celebrate the top moments, most emotional stories and best performances of the past year in sports. The awards include 20 "Best in Sport" categories pitting athletes from different sports against each other, along with 17 individual sport categories and two sponsored awards. Recognizing individuals whose contributions transcend sports, the Arthur Ashe Courage Award will be presented to a group of young, female athletes who play in organized soccer leagues in post-Taliban Afghanistan.

LET SPORTS FANS MAKE THE CALL

For the third consecutive year, fans will determine the winners in all contested categories, by voting June 26 through midnight July 8 at www.espys.tv (last year, more than 10 million votes were tabulated). In addition, this year's nominees will be featured, discussed and debated on Tuesday, June 27, at 7 p.m. on ESPN during The ESPY Nomination Show presented by GMC from New York City's 40/40 Club. The show, co-hosted by Stuart Scott and television personality Melyssa Ford, will include commentary by in-studio guests Armstrong, Hines Ward and others, along with Jim Rome and Pardon the Interruption's Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon.

Also, on ESPN360's new "The ESPYS" channel, viewers can watch behind-the-scenes content from past ESPYS, video of on-stage moments and ESPYS features, Jim Valvano's memorable 1993 Arthur Ashe Courage Award acceptance speech and nomination analysis from the Nomination Show. The channel's ESPYS content offerings will culminate with 360 at The ESPYS, a live show from The ESPYS red carpet with Thea Andrews and Dana Jacobson.

NOMINEE STORYLINES

The recently completed NBA Finals was the coming-out party for Finals MVP and Best NBA Player nominee Dwyane Wade (also up for Best Championship Performance) and Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki. They, along with LeBron James and Bryant, go up against two-time NBA MVP, and last year's winner Steve Nash. After a year on ice, the NHL is well-represented with goalie Cam Ward of the recently crowned Stanley Cup Champion Carolina Hurricanes up for Best NHL Player along with Jaromir Jagr, Joe Thornton and Alexander Ovechkin (also nominated for Best Breakthrough Athlete).

NFL running back Alexander, who is also nominated in the Best Male Athlete and Best NFL Player categories, is one of two NFL stars to be nominated for Best Record-Breaking Performance, in recognition of his 28 touchdowns – a single-season record. Pittsburgh Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger, at age 23, was the youngest quarterback to lead his team to a Super Bowl victory, going up against the Seahawks; and at The ESPYS, they will be competing with Kalen Pimentel's Little League World Series-record tying and American record-setting 18 strikeouts in six innings, and freestyle motocross star Mike Metzger's 125-foot "Impossible Jump" – the first person to complete a back flip over the fountains at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

2006 ESPYS NOMINEE DID YOU KNOW?

 Smells like team spirit: Three of the Best Coach/Manager nominees – the Chicago White Sox' Ozzie Guillen, Pittsburgh Steelers' Bill Cowher and Miami Heat's Pat Riley – head up rosters in the Best Team category. The other two teams nominated are Maryland Women's Basketball and Texas Football, with the men's basketball coaches from Florida (Billy Donovan) and George Mason (Jim Larranaga) getting the nods in their category.

 How to measure "amazing": Bryant's 81 points against Toronto on January 22 – in a game that saw the Raptors head into halftime with a 63-49 lead – is up for the Best Sports Moment of the year, but his competition is considerable. George Mason Men's Basketball and its improbable run to the Final Four are nominated, as is 13-year-old Dakoda Dowd who scored a birdie on her first LPGA hole as her mother Kelly Jo – sick with bone and liver cancer – looked on. And who can forget autistic high school student Jason McElwain (J-Mac) scoring an unforgettable 20 points in just over four minutes after being put into a game as reward for his dedication and passion to the sport?

 Coming up roses: The Longhorns' win over USC at the Rose Bowl may have taken place months ago, but Texas is still reaping the benefits, by way of five ESPY nominations for football this year: Best Team, Best Game and Young's Best Championship Performance, Best Male College Athlete and Best Male Athlete nods. But wait – the Trojans' football team has five as well, one which is shared with UT (Best Game) and two which go up against their rivals (both Bush and Leinart are nominated for Best Male Collegiate Athlete). Who will come out on top this time?

 What's in the cards? The St. Louis Cardinals, led by Pujols' three nominations – one, for Best Baseball Player, against his teammate Chris Carpenter – are tied with the Los Angeles Lakers for professional teams with four nominations a piece (followed by three each for the Miami Heat and Pittsburgh Steelers).

 Getting schooled: In the collegiate categories, LSU hoops star Seimone Augustus is once again up for Best Female College Athlete, but so is Texas softball's Cat Osterman, last year's winner. Duke's J.J. Reddick and Gonzaga's Adam Morrison represent the hardwood in a football heavy Best Male College Athlete field.

 Two-fers: Two new award categories have been introduced for this year's ESPYS: Best International Athlete and Best Footballer (that's "soccer" to many fans in the U.S.). Nominated in both is Brazilian star Ronaldinho – one of a baker's dozen of individuals hoping to bring home two trophies. The others are basketball stars Wade, James, Nowitzki and Swoopes, USC's Leinart and Bush, first woman Driver of the Year winner Troxel, Indianapolis 500 winner Sam Hornish, Jr., and tennis players Blake, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Venus Williams.

Presenters already confirmed to attend The 2006 ESPYS include: Will Ferrell, Dwyane Wade, Mariah Carey, LeBron James, Ben Stiller, Ashley Judd, Reggie Bush, Greg Kinnear, Venus Williams, Jimmy Kimmel, Kiefer Sutherland, Shaun White, Rosario Dawson, Terrell Owens, Carmen Electra and Jake Gyllenhaal, among others.

The entire list of ESPYS nominees:

BEST IN SPORT (20 CATEGORIES)

BEST FEMALE ATHLETE
Annika Sorenstam, Professional Golfer
Hannah Teter, Snowboarder
Melanie Troxel, Driver
Sheryl Swoopes, Houston Comets

BEST MALE ATHLETE
Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals
Lance Armstrong, Cyclist
LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
Shaun Alexander, Seattle Seahawks
Vince Young, Texas Football

BEST MOMENT
Dakoda Dowd, 13 years old, plays in LPGA event, fulfilling sick mother's dream
George Mason beats UConn, makes Final Four
Jason McElwain scores 20 points in four minutes
L.A. Lakers' Kobe Bryant scores 81 points against Toronto Raptors

BEST TEAM
Chicago White Sox
Maryland Women's Basketball
Miami Heat
Pittsburgh Steelers
Texas Football

BEST COACH/MANAGER
Ozzie Guillen, Chicago White Sox
Bill Cowher, Pittsburgh Steelers
Billy Donovan, Florida Men's Basketball
Jim Larranaga, George Mason Men's Basketball
Pat Riley, Miami Heat

BEST GAME
NLDS Game 4: Astros vs. Braves
Rose Bowl (National Championship): USC vs. Texas
U.S. Open Quarterfinals: Andre Agassi vs. James Blake

BEST CHAMPIONSHIP PERFORMANCE
Dwyane Wade, NBA Finals
Sam Hornish Jr., Indianapolis 500
Venus Williams, Wimbledon
Vince Young, Rose Bowl

BEST PLAY
Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Aaron Rowand's catch while crashing into the fence and breaking his nose
NY Mets third baseman David Wright's barehanded catch vs. San Diego
Nathan Vasher's (Chicago Bears) record 108-yard return of a missed field goal
USC's Reggie Bush's punt return vs. Washington
Tyrone Prothro's TD catch for Alabama vs. Southern Mississippi

BEST COMEBACK
James Blake, Tennis Player
Ronny Turiaf, Los Angeles Lakers
Tedy Bruschi, New England Patriots

BEST BREAKTHROUGH ATHLETE
Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Capitals
Chris Paul, New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets
Kimmie Meissner, Figure Skater
Shaun White, Snowboarder

BEST RECORD-BREAKING PERFORMANCE
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
Kalen Pimentel, Rancho Buena Vista Little League
Mike Metzger, Freestyle Motocross Rider
Shaun Alexander, Seattle Seahawks

BEST SPORTS MOVIE
Four Minutes
Dreamer
Glory Road
Greatest Game Ever Played

BEST MALE ACTION SPORT ATHLETE
Jamie Bestwick, BMX rider
Jeremy Stenberg, Motocross Rider
Kelly Slater, Surfer
Ricky Carmichael, Motocross Rider
Shaun White, Snowboarder

BEST FEMALE ACTION SPORT ATHLETE
Cara-Beth Burnside, Skateboarder
Dallas Friday, Wakeboarder
Gretchen Bleiler, Snowboarder
Hannah Teter, Snowboarder
Janna Meyen, Snowboarder

BEST MALE COLLEGE ATHLETE
Adam Morrison, Gonzaga Basketball
J. J. Redick, Duke Basketball
Matt Leinart, USC Football
Reggie Bush, USC Football
Vince Young, Texas Football

BEST FEMALE COLLEGE ATHLETE
Seimone Augustus, LSU Basketball
Courtney Thompson, Washington Volleyball
Virginia Powell, USC Track
Christine Sinclair, Portland Soccer
Cat Osterman, Texas Softball

BEST MALE ATHLETE WITH A DISABILITY
Anthony Robles, Wrestler
Bobby Martin, Football Player
Steve Cook, Nordic Skier

BEST FEMALE ATHLETE WITH A DISABILITY
Rachael Scdoris, Sled Dog Racer
Laurie Stephens, Skier
Sarah Reinertsen, Triathlete

BEST U.S. OLYMPIAN
Ted Ligety, Skier
Julia Mancuso, Skier
Hannah Teter, Snowboarder
Shaun White, Snowboarder

BEST INTERNATIONAL ATHLETE
Roger Federer, Tennis Player
Rafael Nadal, Tennis Player
Fernando Alonzo, Driver
Ronaldinho, Footballer
Albert Pujols, Baseball Player
Dirk Nowitzki, Basketball Player

INDIVIDUAL (17 CATEGORIES)

BEST BASEBALL PLAYER
Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals
Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees
Chris Carpenter, St. Louis Cardinals
David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox

BEST NBA PLAYER
Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks
Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat
Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
Steve Nash, Phoenix Suns

BEST WNBA PLAYER
Diana Taurasi, Phoenix Mercury
Lauren Jackson, Seattle Storm
Lisa Leslie, Los Angeles Sparks
Sheryl Swoopes, Houston Comets
Tamika Catchings, Indiana Fever

BEST NFL PLAYER
Brian Urlacher, Chicago Bears
LaDainian Tomlinson, San Diego Chargers
Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts
Shaun Alexander, Seattle Seahawks
Steve Smith, Carolina Panthers

BEST NHL PLAYER
Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Capitols
Cam Ward, Carolina Hurricanes
Jaromir Jagr, New York Rangers
Joe Thornton, Boston Bruins/San Jose Sharks

BEST ANGLER
(FORMERLY BEST OUTDOORS)
Greg Hackney
Ish Monroe
Preston Clark
Tammy Richardson

BEST BOWLER
Chris Barnes
Norm Duke
Tommy Jones
Walter Ray Williams Jr.

BEST BOXER
Bernard Hopkins
Floyd Mayweather
Jermain Taylor
Oscar De La Hoya

BEST DRIVER
Dan Wheldon
Jimmie Johnson
Melanie Troxel
Sam Hornish Jr.
Tony Stewart

BEST GOLFER
Annika Sorenstam
Phil Mickelson
Tiger Woods

BEST JOCKEY
Edgar Prado
Garrett Gomez
John Velazquez

BEST MLS PLAYER
Dwayne DeRosario, San Jose Earthquakes (now Houston Dynamos)
Jaime Moreno, DC United
Landon Donovan, Los Angeles Galaxy
Taylor Twellman, New England Revolution

BEST FOOTBALLER
Andriy Shevchenko, Ukraine
Frank Lampard, England
Ronaldinho, Brazil
Thierry Henry, France

BEST MALE TENNIS PLAYER
David Nalbandian
James Blake
Rafael Nadal
Roger Federer

BEST FEMALE TENNIS PLAYER
Amelie Mauresmo
Justine Henin-Hardenne
Kim Clijsters
Venus Williams

BEST FEMALE TRACK AND FIELD ATHLETE
Allyson Felix
Michelle Perry
Sanya Richards

BEST MALE TRACK AND FIELD ATHLETE
Asafa Powell
Bershawn Jackson
Justin Gatlin

SPONSORED AWARDS

GMC PROFESSIONAL GRADE PLAY AWARD
Philadelphia Phillies' Aaron Rowand: Breaks nose hitting fence while making catch
Pittsburgh Steelers' Antwaan Randle-El: Option pass to Hines Ward for Super Bowl TD
Tennessee's Candace Parker: Two dunks in NCAA tourney game
New England Patriots' Doug Flutie: First successful drop kick since 1941

UNDER ARMOUR UNDENIABLE PERFORMANCE AWARD
Ohio State's A.J. Hawk: MVP performance in Fiesta Bowl win
L.A. Lakers' Kobe Bryant: 81-point game against Toronto
USC's Matt Leinart: Game-ending TD run to beat Notre Dame
Philadelphia Phillies' Ryan Howard: Wins NL Rookie of the Year, hits 22 HR

The ESPYS
The ESPYS gather top celebrities from sports and entertainment to commemorate the past year's best sports stories by recognizing major achievements, reliving unforgettable moments and saluting the leading performers and performances. The 2006 ESPYS will include both sport-specific awards such as Best MLB Player and Best WNBA Player and distinguishing "Best in Sport" awards, categories that pit different sports against each other, such as Best Team or Best Female Athlete. The ESPYS are committed to the advancement of The V Foundation for Cancer Research, established by ESPN with the late Jim Valvano and announced at the inaugural ESPYS in 1993.

*The show will be taped on Wednesday, July 12 at 6 p.m. PT.