Former NC State star Russell Wilson to co-host the ESPY Awards on Sunday

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Wednesday, June 17, 2020
Former NC State star to co-host the ESPY Awards
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Former NC State star Russell Wilson to co-host the ESPY Awards

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- The 27th annual ESPY Awards had to change dates and format to navigate the effects of COVID-19.

Instead of mid-July, the show airs this Sunday -- recorded, not live -- and will have three hosts including one with ties to Raleigh.

Along with former NC State star quarterback Russell Wilson, soccer star Megan Rapinoe and the WNBA's Sue Bird will host. Kind of a strange concept, a sports award show after months without sports. Yet the ESPYs are about more than trophies.

It's going to be more focused on impact ... and I'm honored to be a host," Wilson said. "Hopefully, sports can shine a light on how we can make a difference as athletes."

It's also a night to raise awareness. It was during the inaugural event in which legendary NC State basketball coach Jim Valvano gave his now-famous speech launching The V Foundation to support cancer research.

"Don't give up, don't ever give up," were Valvano's iconic words.

This year, one focus is on funding minority researchers through the Stuart Scott fund. The V Foundation's SVP of Communications said it's an important night in the fight against cancer.

"ESPN's support of the V Foundation is critical," Sherrie Mazur said. "As you know they are our founding partner, and the ESPYs is one of the times of the year that ESPN specifically highlights the mission of the V Foundation and encourages fundraising."

The two-hour event will focus on inclusion and ongoing social movement.

"It's a no-brainer for us to really emphasize the significance of what's going on around the world," Wilson said. And, obviously, we've all been missing sports, in such a way that we never would have expected because of COVID."

Wilson and his wife, Ciara, are expecting a third child, and Wilson said you can expect a surprise appearance of the singer from the comfort of their backyard.

Editor's Note: Sherrie Mazur is the wife of ABC11's Joe Mazur.