Dalvin Keller (left of Michelle Obama) on stage at the 2017 ESPYS in Los Angeles.
The ESPY Awards are the pinnacle of sports accomplishment and recognition. Dalvin Keller, a Special Olympics Michigan athlete from Flint, and seven other Special Olympics athletes were on stage at the 25th annual ESPY Awards show on July 12 in Los Angeles, assisting in the acceptance of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award in honor of the late Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the founder of Special Olympics.
The Arthur Ashe Courage Award is given to those whose actions go above and beyond sports to the benefit of others. Eunice Kennedy Shriver dedicated her life to finding equality through sport for all people. The award was accepted by her son and Special Olympics Chairman Timothy Shriver.
Dalvin was on stage with Michelle Obama during this award acceptance; he met many celebrities and some of his favorite sports icons.
Dalvin Keller poses for a picture with NBA MVP Russell Westbrook while at the ESPYS.
"It was pretty fun, I had a good time," Dalvin said. "Celebrities, movie stars, all stars; I met them all."
The world had its eyes on Special Olympics and the overwhelming support of the crowd was incredible. Celebrities, sport superstars, and cultural icons all rose in support of Special Olympics. Dalvin noted that meeting NBA superstar Russell Westbrook was one of his fondest memories of the night. It was incredible to witness their love for sports unify them all. Dalvin and the Special Olympics athletes showed the world what they are all capable of and the transformative power of sports.
Dalvin also received his own honorary ESPY for his courage and commitment through sports as his team won gold in the 2015 Special Olympics World Games in volleyball. Dalvin had a hard time fitting in throughout his childhood. Getting picked on while growing up and going through hard struggles; he never expected something like this to happen from playing sports. Special Olympics helped change his life for the better. He has greatly improved his confidence, speaking ability and outlook on his life. He feels like a hero when he's back home. People tell him how proud they are of him for what he has done for himself, Flint and all others out there who have had doubt.
"It felt good to me, at least I accomplished something," Dalvin said.
Dalvin Keller with his honorary ESPY award.
He received his award on July 31. He attends Genesee Intermediate School District Transition Center in Flint. Family, friends, teachers and media all were present for Dalvin's big moment. He was awarded the ESPY by his volleyball coach Sheila Gafney. Sheila had nothing but good things to say about Dalvin. She saw him grow as a person and an athlete.
"I have seen you use sports to conquer all those fears, and that's what the ESPY is all about; to have the courage to do all of that," Sheila said to Dalvin.
Dalvin made Flint, Michigan, the United States and the entire world proud of his accomplishments at the World Games and in everyday life. He is a true paradigm for what it means to be a Special Olympics athlete. His behavior on and off the court shows that he is just a humble, genuine young man. Everyone could learn a thing or two from Dalvin; even he learned how much he could achieve.
Dalvin said ecstatically, "I really amazed myself though."