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The 2021 ESPYs may have slid under most audiences’ radars on Saturday night behind a thrilling UFC 264, but the headline of the awards show focused on Paige Bueckers, who received the accolade for Best Female College Athlete.
The UCONN star took to the podium and thanked her greatest muses, which included ESPN’s Maria Taylor and the late Breonna Taylor.
In her freshman season, Bueckers averaged 20 points, 5.8 assists, 4.9 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game.
Bueckers’ sentiments expressed on stage landed well with the crowd of athletes and celebrities in attendance because it carried an ESPN-approved message with a touch of modern piety.
“With the light that I have now as a white woman who leads a black-led sport and celebrated here, I want to shed a light on black women,” said Bueckers. “They don’t get the media coverage that they deserve. They’ve given so much to the sport, the community and society as a whole and their value is undeniable.”
The college player then shouted out Maria Taylor, whose spotlight in the past week has dramatically reduced the role of veteran reporter Rachel Nichols at ESPN. The drama between the two women also calls into question whether Taylor will receive her requested salary figure of $8 million per year based on true merit.
“To Maria Taylor, Robin Roberts, Maya Moore, Odicci Alexander. To all the incredible Black women in my life and on my teams,” continued Bueckers, also going on to thank the late Breonnna Taylor. “To Breonna Taylor and all the lives lost, and to those names who are not yet learned, but I hope to share, I stand behind you and I continue to follow you, follow your lead and fight for you guys so I just want to say thank you for everything.”
Reflecting on her moment with The Undefeated, Bueckers claimed that the speech was a response to the uneven media coverage and privilege granted to white athletes over black athletes.
The UCONN player stated in her interview:
“Over the past couple of years, I’ve just got a lot of attention in the media and a lot of it has focused on me and other white athletes, and I just want to use my platform to sort of share the light and just sort of expand the horizons on who gets the attention, who gets the social media followings.”
According to the Hartford Courant, Bueckers is rumored to receive a six-figure salary from a Canadian-based nutrition company as part of the new NIL ruling from the NCAA.
“America’s highest paid college athlete plays in Connecticut,” announced Six Star Pro Nutrition. “We just can’t pay her yet.”