The announcement Tuesday that two of the three co-hosts of the 2020 ESPY Awards will be women wasn’t some sort of nod toward political correctness. Rather, it was an acknowledgment that Megan Rapinoe and Sue Bird form the ultimate power couple when it comes to world-class athletes.
Russell Wilson will also co-host the ESPYs
The ESPY Awards, created in 1993, will have a different look this year because of the coronavirus. The traditional July date has been moved up to June 21, at which point at least some of the country will likely still be operating under restrictions due to the pandemic.
With that in mind, the show’s producers will follow the lead of the last month’s NFL draft and ditch the usual theater setting to work from multiple locations linked together by video technology. The focus will also take on a different look, shifting from honoring top athletes and moments to recognizing heroism and humanitarian efforts during the pandemic.
Soccer player Megan Rapinoe and basketball player Sue Bird will preside from their home, and fellow Seattle-area resident Russell Wilson will be the third co-host from the home he shares wife his singer wife, Ciara.
Wilson, the Seattle Seahawks’ star quarterback, and Ciara are quite the celebrity couple, bridging the sports and entertainment worlds. Bird and Rapinoe, who have been together since late 2016, form the most accomplished couple in American sports, with each sporting a resume full of international successes.
Sue Bird has had an incredible run in the WNBA
Sue Bird began her climb toward professional basketball stardom with a stellar scholastic career culminating in being selected Miss New York Basketball as a senior. She turned down offers from many of the other NCAA powers to sign with UConn, only to suffer a season-ending knee injury early in her freshman season.
The 5-foot-9 point guard came back strong as a sophomore and was a key component of the Huskies’ 107-4 run with two NCAA titles over her final three seasons. She won multiple honors along the way, including the Naismith Award as the nation’s top player in the 2001-02 season.
Although she missed the entire 2013 and 2019 seasons with a knee injury, her pro career has been impressive for its quality and duration. Selected first overall by the Seattle Storm in 2002, she has appeared in more than 500 regular-season games, averaging 12.1 points and 5.6 assists a game.
Bird has also been a fixture with U.S> Basketball. The three WNBA championships with Seattle are nice, but Bird has also played for four Olympic champions and four FIBA World Championships winners.
Bird began dating Megan Rapinoe after the two met at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016.
Megan Rapinoe has become the face of the USWNT
Megan Rapinoe’s international credentials aren’t quite a match for what Sue Bird has accomplished. The 5-foot-6 forward and midfielder played for the Olympic gold medalists in London (2012), finishing with three goals and four assists. She also led the United States Women’s National Team to World Cup triumphs in 2015 and 2019.
Rapinoe, a co-captain on the USWNT, was named the FIFA Women’s Player of the Year in 2019 after being selected the outstanding player of the 2019 World Cup.
Before moving into the senior international ranks, Rapinoe played at the University of Portland, where she helped the Pilots to an NCAA Division I championship as a freshman in 2005. Her sophomore and junior seasons ended early due to ACL injuries, but she came back as a senior to start all 22 games and finished her career with 30 goals in 60 appearances.
Rapinoe has made 168 appearances with the USNWT, scoring 52 goals.