Less than a month after being named 2020-21 Kia NBA Rookie of the Year, Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball won an ESPY for Best Breakthrough Athlete on Saturday night in New York City.
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert, Washington Football Team defensive lineman Chase Young and Minnesota Lynx guard Crystal Dangerfield were also nominated for the award. Herbert was named the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and Young the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, while Dangerfield was named WNBA Rookie of the Year.
Ball, 19, said he had a speech prepared but forgot what he was going to say as he was getting rained on up on the stage to accept the award.
“I forgot everything,” he said. “I can only think about my family right now. And my momma.”
— ESPN (@espn) July 11, 2021
Previous winners of the award include Tiger Woods (1997), Tom Brady (2002) and LeBron James (2004).
Ball, who was selected third overall by the Hornets in the 2020 NBA Draft, averaged 15.7 points, 5.9 rebounds, 6.1 assists and 1.6 steals in 28.8 minutes per game, appearing in 51 games (31 starts). Ball ranked 17th in assists and ninth in steals per game among league leaders in his first season as he became the only player in the last 60 years to lead all rookies in total points, rebounds, assists and steals at the All-Star break.