Pat Summitt on Arthur Ashe award: 'I'm going to be a fighter'

Sports world honors coach with Ashe courage award

Denver's Peyton Manning, right, presents Pat Summitt with the Arthur Ashe courage award as her soon Tyler looks on at the ESPY Awards on Wednesday in Los Angeles.

Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP, 2012 Invision

Denver's Peyton Manning, right, presents Pat Summitt with the Arthur Ashe courage award as her soon Tyler looks on at the ESPY Awards on Wednesday in Los Angeles.

LOS ANGELES — Pat Summitt figures her courage was born somewhere on a Tennessee farm, between milking cows and shooting hoops in a barn loft.

"Growing up on a dairy farm, milking at 5 a.m. and 5 p.m., my brothers made me very tough," Summitt said on the red carpet for the ESPY awards, where she received the Arthur Ashe Courage Award for her bravery on and off the court during the televised event Wednesday night.

Former football Vol Peyton Manning presented Summitt her award, referring to her as "a mentor and a friend."

Almost a year ago, Summitt announced she had been diagnosed with early-onset dementia, Alzheimer's type. Despite that, she continued coaching the Lady Vols before stepping away from her head coach role last spring.

A biographical video introducing Summitt recalled her six miscarriages, a divorce and her declining health, as well as her unparalleled career victories.

Summitt wrapped up her career with 1,098 wins in 1,306 games coaching in AIAW and NCAA Division I play.

Summitt was the center of attention Wednesday night, walking the red carpet with her son, Tyler Summitt, and dressed in a dark blue sparkling jacket with pants.

Only someone of Summitt's stature could pull off being the center of attention at such a star-studded event that included everyone from rapper Nas to pro football superstar Tim Tebow to Eli Manning to New York Knicks breakthrough Jeremy Lin.

Baylor women's coach Kim Mulkey gave Summitt her due beyond the court. "Pat is not only a great coach. She is a mother. She is a former player. She embodies everything that is good in women's basketball," Mulkey said.

"She is a fierce competitor. She is open and brave about everything happening with her."

The Lady Bears defeated the Lady Vols in the Elite Eight this past season.

Summitt said she was eager to accept the award.

But in a career that has Summitt earning virtually a different honor on what seems like a daily basis, where does she place the Arthur Ashe Award?

"It means everything," Summitt said. "The Arthur Ashe Award is very dear to my heart.

"I'm going to be a fighter, like he was a fighter."

Part of her courage comes from her loved ones.

"I have a lot of people with me today who are dear to me. I have been so blessed to have so many people give me so many great awards. I am very humbled because of it," she said, smiling.

"We are very fortunate to be here tonight and to receive this award."

At the top of her list of supporters is her son.

"Tyler has been my rock. He always has been," she said.

Tyler Summitt, who played basketball for UT, is now an assistant women's coach at Marquette.

Of his mother, Tyler said, "She's always been so tough. It's always been how she's been."

Neither Tyler nor his mother could have dreamed they'd be in Los Angeles, walking a red carpet and taking in the night. As Pat Summitt walked the red carpet, her famous glassy stare and sharpness from the coaching bench were replaced with smiles and grace.

"I couldn't even imagine it. It is what it is," she said. "I'm just glad to be here with my friends."

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Comments » 34

SATCHMOE writes:

Great to be a Tennessee Vol. Pat is the Greatest

ssgdebity writes:

She is a real class act. As she stands on a pedestal all her own. I honestly think another honor for her would naming national player of the year to the pat summit player of the year. Love you and will miss seeing you pat.

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

Watch the tribute video from the Awards show and just try not to cry when she's telling the players near the end. I dare you.

DeltaCharlie3 writes:

Classy lady and touching tribute last night at the ESPY's.

SummittsCourt writes:

It's the only thing I watched on the espy's last night. She is one in a billion and there will never be another Pat Summitt. We Lady Vol fans have been treated to greatness for 38 wonderful years. I count meeting her as one of my greatest moments on earth. God bless her and her fight against this disease.

ps11824 writes:

What a woman, a legend...

TommyJack writes:

Bravo!

Fall_Creek_Vols writes:

Our coach. Our friend. Our family.

We back Pat.

BRUCEpart2 writes:

When I moved to the Knoxville area 20+ years ago, one of the things I thought was "the coolest" (I talked like that 20 years ago!) was that I'd be in the town and community where Pat Summitt was. To see such an icon and standard bearer for women's sport now fight for her very existence is both humbling and at the same time, somewhat surreal. I wish her & her family only the best as she moves into the next chapter of her life. Any of us who've been around UT athletics have witnessed an anomilie beyond all anomilies...Patricia Head Summitt.....Leader, Coach, Woman, Friend.......simply put, the very best of each!

orangecountyvols writes:

Vols,

Very nice comments from all of you. Pat deserves all you said.

I was indeed fortunate to have met her 3 times, and she was at the mike with Mickey after the last Candace Parker game at Georgia where she was gracious to sign autographs for the Tennessee fans who waited to see her.

Also, she stopped and spoke to me after a band practice in the morning before a football game. ( She had given the band a pep talk. ) We discussed the great comeback against Virginia in Charlottesville in 1997 en route to the National Championship.

What a special person and U T is so fortunate to have had her all these years.

wilsnewt writes:

What a wonderful tribute last night. I cried my eyes out. She is just such an inspiration and the fact she has a 100% graduation rate is the greatest stat of all. May God bless her through her battle.

HOSSFLY writes:

one of a kind and there will never be another !

so great, so admired, so deserving, so......."Tennessee".

mdvol writes:

One of the proudest moments I have had as a University of Tennessee Volunteer! As the story said, statistics don't begin to describe Pat Summitt.

knoxvette1 writes:

We (The Vol Nation) have been blessed and probably spoiled by Pat. We will never see the likes of her again and can only hope that her commitment, work ethic, and dedication to her student athletes spreads among the other Vol Nation Coach's. It is going to be very strange to watch the Lady Vols next year without having Pat on the bench as the head coach. I hope that anything and everything that is good is in Pat's future as she takes on her battle with dementia! WE BACK PAT

PUL4VOLS writes:

She was a fighter, is a fighter and always will be. All the awards are wonderful but who she is, what she has done for women's college bb eclippses everything else. Thanks Pat, keep up the good fight. We always love you and pull for you.

voloffaith writes:

Oh for a moment I thought I was the only one tearing up.....Have picture on Refrigerator of her with my brother,mom, and self at a UT function several years ago. Class lady! We have it better than we deserve in many ways! No Coach Summitt on the bench will be odd as that is all I/we have ever known.....Thanks Coach you are in our prayers as you navigate in to waters that will be murky and mysterious. Tyler in Marquette and not with her will be an interesting dynamic to watch carefully.

johnlg00 writes:

And to think I only caught it by chance! I rarely watch the ESPYs all the way through, but there was nothing else I wanted to watch right then so I flipped over. Peyton, Pat, and Tyler were as classy and distinguished as anyone who ever took that stage. The video was a true exemplar of that art form. All honor to Pat, who raises up the entire Big Orange Nation by her very existence!

ModelMaker writes:

It don't get any better than Pat Summitt. She is the mother of all the girls she ever coached. She is the reason I became interested in womens basketball. I wish her and Tyler all the best.

luvmatersoup writes:

If I said it once, I've said it a 1,000 times. Pat is truly a class act and could coach any men's basketball team. Let's all wish Pat the best of luck!!! I also love the picture above of Pat with Eli and Payton Manning....Now they are two classy dudes as well!

BigRMan writes:

At some point in the near future there will be a yearly award named for Coach Summit. It might be player of the year, coach of the year in women's basketball, or it might be the National Championship trophy itself. Any one of these honors would be great to bear the name of Coach Summit

PureOrange writes:

Explaining class in words is very hard to do. It has to be witnessed to truly understand what it is. Tennessee fans, and the world, has had the opportunity to witness class in its clearest definition by watching Pat Head Summitt for all these years.

Truly CLASS; truly GREAT. So thankful she is our very own. Her name will forever be linked to greatness, both as a coach and a person.

May God bless you Pat. Thanks for all you have done, and continue to do!

voloffaith writes:

in response to luvmatersoup:

If I said it once, I've said it a 1,000 times. Pat is truly a class act and could coach any men's basketball team. Let's all wish Pat the best of luck!!! I also love the picture above of Pat with Eli and Payton Manning....Now they are two classy dudes as well!

I told ewe toe-may-toe is too acidic and may cos spelling problems...just ask PEYTON.......

luvmatersoup writes:

in response to voloffaith:

I told ewe toe-may-toe is too acidic and may cos spelling problems...just ask PEYTON.......

I totally agree with you about Payton being a class act. Here in DC, we play the Giants twice a year (Eli's the QB) and on those Sundays....I'm scared to death. Eli, like his brother is a leader both on and off the field. I wish Payton luck in Denver and Eli as well....just wish he'd get traded to a team outside the NFC East!

luvmatersoup writes:

in response to voloffaith:

I told ewe toe-may-toe is too acidic and may cos spelling problems...just ask PEYTON.......

vol4gzus, sorry about that...I spelled his name the same way in my first reply back to you. What's crazy is that in all the years I've followed PEYTON, I always imagined it was spelled with an "a". How emberassing!!! Maybe I should lay off the tomato soup for a little bit?????

pj_ladyvolnMI writes:

The best moment of the ESPYS night by far. What a great example of courage and grace and character. Being a Vol is the icing on the cake for us. Thanks for letting us learn from you, Pat...praying for you.

secondcreek writes:

Coming soon...the Vatican announces sainthood for Pat Summitt. Lots of hagiography already in play in the media.

BigOrangeFreak writes:

in response to secondcreek:

Coming soon...the Vatican announces sainthood for Pat Summitt. Lots of hagiography already in play in the media.

I surely hope that the Vatican stays away from Pat.

She is far too pure to be involved with such scoundrels.

voloffaith writes:

in response to secondcreek:

Coming soon...the Vatican announces sainthood for Pat Summitt. Lots of hagiography already in play in the media.

hagiography: worshipful or idealizing biography.....word cannot be used in SCRABBLE....anyway the Vatican has nothing to do with determining if one is a Saint or not....Thanks again for being a coach for the ages....

LaneBrains writes:

Along with so many other outstanding decisions by former AD Mike Hamilton, keeping Pat Summitt as head coach during our era at the university was a decision we considered carefully and then 2 out of 3 of us strongly endorsed.

It was great to see her in our backyard again.

CLK, Monte and Ed.

knoxemtman writes:

I guess I'm one of few who did not cry at this tribute. Good video though... Good luck Pat.

pingkr62 writes:

The world needs a lot more Pat Summitts. She has been a source of pride, not only for the University of Tennessee, but for the entire state as well. Coach Summitt will always be admired,respected, and loved by so many, and will be missed. Go Coach Summitt, and as always, Go Vols

bah4vols#266620 writes:

in response to SummittsCourt:

It's the only thing I watched on the espy's last night. She is one in a billion and there will never be another Pat Summitt. We Lady Vol fans have been treated to greatness for 38 wonderful years. I count meeting her as one of my greatest moments on earth. God bless her and her fight against this disease.

Amen. We absolutely have been treated to greatness. I feel so fortunate to be living in the same era as her's on earth.

BigBadVol writes:

in response to SummittsCourt:

It's the only thing I watched on the espy's last night. She is one in a billion and there will never be another Pat Summitt. We Lady Vol fans have been treated to greatness for 38 wonderful years. I count meeting her as one of my greatest moments on earth. God bless her and her fight against this disease.

You are exactly right. It just shows that greatness can't be taught. It's earned. She deserves all the good things that come her way. I too got to meet her. One of my greatest moments also. I will always love her style. VFL!

TheHELLNOITGuy writes:

Coach Summitt has always been a class act and the best ambassador UT has ever had. And the ESPY video was outstanding. I did not realize she had six miscarriages before Tyler was born, and did I hear that right about two divorces? I thought she was only married once.

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