Parkland coaches who died saving students honored at ESPN’s ESPY Awards

At the 2018 ESPY Awards, ESPN’s annual sports-focused awards show that aired on ABC on July 18, three high school coaches received a very special honor — even if it was too late for them to accept it themselves.

Scott Beigel, Aaron Feis and Chris Hixon, all coaches at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, lost their lives during the deadly shooting there on Feb. 14. The trio of mentors was given the best coach award for their work as coaches, as well as their bravery and determination to protect their students during the attack.

The award was accepted by fellow Marjory Stoneman Douglas coach Elliot Bonner on behalf of his fallen colleagues. The families of the three men were also present, and they received a standing ovation from the audience, which was packed with some of the greatest athletes on the planet.

The 2018 ESPYS - Show
Getty Images | Kevork Djansezian

“Scott, Aaron and Chris were heroes and they were coaches,” Bonner said in his remarks while accepting the award. “But they were also husbands, fathers and sons. The issue of gun violence and what happened at our school isn’t a political issue. It’s a human issue. Lives were lost that didn’t have to be.”

A video narrated by actress Connie Britton played at the event, and included tributes from Stoneman Douglas student athletes about how much their late coaches meant to them:

“Heroes walked these halls,” Britton says in the powerful video. “Remember that as much as anything else when you think about that fateful day.”

Each of the three coaches honored died while trying to protect students. In all, the shooter claimed 17 lives that day, and 17 more were injured.

Getty, Joe Raedle

Although the ESPY Award for best coach is usually given strictly for a coach’s outstanding professional skills in their sport, the men honored this year were also chosen for their “immeasurable bravery in the face of danger and for their ultimate sacrifice to protect the lives of countless students,” according to Alison Overholt, vice president and editor in chief of ESPN The Magazine.

Past recipients of the honor include legendary NBA coach Phil Jackson and Bill Belichick of the NFL’s New England Patriots.