Members of the media lined up last Thursday, July 14, when the show was taped, waiting for the celebrities to make their entrance. One by one, athletes and actors walked down the carpet to have their pictures taken and answer questions from the press.
Seahawks QB Russell Wilson, Detroit Lions receiver Marvin Jones, Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns, New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, and Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry were some of the athletes who walked down the carpet.
Athletes took time to give words of encouragement to kids and inspire others. Professional snowboarder and X-Games gold medalist Chloe Kim had a message for young athletes: “I just say to keep having fun and to work hard and never give up. I feel like those three things have really made a positive [impact] for me.”
Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia talked about his charity, the Pitch In Foundation, and what it means to him. “I grew up in the inner city, and I grew up meeting programs like the Boys & Girls Club and different charities that helped me get to this point, so mine is aimed to help kids, just to inspire, and to get in a better situation.”
Kids across the country voted on many different categories. NBA Finals MVP LeBron James and U.S. soccer star Alex Morgan won Best Male and Female Athlete, respectively. Newton and skateboarder Leticia Bufoni were crowned the King and Queen of Swag. Curry won Clutch Player of the Year, as well as the award for Sickest Moves.
Gymnast Simone Biles was the Favorite Newcomer of 2016, and New York Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. received the Hands of Gold award. MMA star Ronda Rousey won the Don’t Try This at Home award, and Wilson won Best Cannon. Gronkowski took home the award for Biggest Powerhouse, and sprinter Usain Bolt won the Need for Speed award.
Former L.A. Lakers star Kobe Bryant, who retired after the 2015–16 season, received the biggest honor of the night: the Legend Award. “It seems like it was yesterday I was about your guys’ age and I had a dream,” said Bryant during his acceptance speech. “The one thing you have to watch out for are those out there that are trying to crush your dream. You cannot allow that to happen. That is your biggest challenge, so I challenge you to have your dream, go after it with all you have, and be legendary in your own right.”
After he finished, Bryant was hit with a stream of golden slime from all angles. He laughed out loud while he was drenched from head to toe.
What makes the Kids’ Choice Sports Awards unique is the addition of fun competitions for athletes and kids. Some winners were slimed. Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller, for example, was slimed upon winning the KCS 500, an event in which he and Sabathia raced around a track on pedal racing carts. When Miller crossed the finish line first, he was hit with an explosion of slime.
In other competitions, kids themselves were slimed. In the three-point shooting contest between Curry and teammate Klay Thompson — complete with oversized balls and hoops — kids stood under the hoops to rebound. Each time either contestant made a basket, slime would rain down on the kids underneath the rim.
While the night was filled with games and honoring legendary athletes, three kids had a chance to win $50,000 each. These kids competed in the Triple Shot Challenge. Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving coached Reynaldo Fernandez of Los Angeles, California, as he tried to make a half-court basketball shot. Newton coached Jake Lombardo of Wayne, New Jersey, as he tried to throw a football into a small ring. Lastly, U.S. soccer legend Brandi Chastain coached Oliver Callanan, of Portland, Oregon, as he tried to kick a soccer ball 30 yards and hit the crossbar.
Fernandez and Lombardo came close in their challenges, but Callanan hit the 30-yard crossbar kick on his first try, earning $50,000.
The Kids’ Choice Sports Awards was a gathering of celebrities and sports fans and a celebration of legendary athletes. Not only were world-class athletes honored with awards, they also competed in fun games and thrilling competitions.
Photographs by Dave Mangels/Getty Images (Bryant, top); Sarah Liu (Lewis); Mike Windle/KCSports2016/Getty Images for Nickelodeon (Bryant from back); Kevin Mazur/KCSports2016/WireImage (Curry)