Angel Reese received recognition for bringing LSU to victory during the 2023 ESPY Awards on Wednesday night. She brought home the award for Best Breakthrough Athlete of the Year. The category also included Caitlin Clark from Iowa Women’s Basketball, Brock Purdy from the San Francisco 49ers and Julio Rodríguez from the Seattle Mariners.
Reese won the 2023 Women’s NCAA Championship earlier this year. The final opposing LSU to the Iowa Hawkeyes recorded 9.9 million viewers. The basketball star quickly gained public recognition afterward. She was named “Most Outstanding Player” of the Final Four and is one of the college athletes with the most NIL deals.
“I just want to thank LSU, my family, my teammates, my coaches, Kim Mulkey, everybody that helped me,” Reese said in her acceptance speech.
She promised she would be helping her team win another championship before graduating.
“Last year, I transferred from the University of Maryland and came to LSU, and I just joined a family. So, I just want to say thank you, and another natty is coming. Period,” she said.
Reese replicated the “you can’t see me” hand gesture that made her go viral during the NCAA final, generating applause from the crowd.
The 21-year-old did the hand gesture earlier in the evening as she presented an award. Reese shared some words of wisdom for young women in sports.
“You are in charge of your own athletic journey. You can do anything. They cannot see you,” she said while making the gesture.
Reese’s win marks the second year in a row that a woman has won in the gender-neutral best breakthrough athlete category. Last year, skier Eileen Gu took home the award. It is also the first time in ESPY history that women have won back-to-back awards in this category, according to Billboard. Past winners have included LaMelo Ball and Saquon Barkley.
The ceremony was held at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles and opened with a performance by Lil Wayne, who performed his 2008 hit “A Milli.” H.E.R. also performed her latest single, “The Journey,” as a tribute to the 30th anniversary of basketball coach Jimmy Valvano.