The 2018 ESPYs diverted from tradition Tuesday to honor the three hero coaches who died while saving Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students from gunfire during the deadly shooting on February 14.
Relatives of Scott Beigel, Aaron Feis and Chris Hixon were on hand to receive the Best Coach Award at the ESPYs, which was given in honor of the three men for their work as coaches, and for their bravery in the face of danger during the shooting.
The shooting — allegedly carried out by a 19-year-old former student — left 17 dead in all, but Beigel, Feis and Hixon saved countless lives thanks to their selfless actions.
“Scott, Aaron and Chris were heroes and they were coaches. But they were also husbands, fathers and sons,” MSD coach Elliott Bonner said when he accepted the award on behalf of Beigel, Feis and Hixon.
“The issue of gun violence and what happened at our school isn’t a political issue. It’s a human issue,” Bonner added. “Lives were lost that didn’t have to be.”
Feis, a 37-year-old father, husband and assistant football coach, was one of the first to respond to the gunfire, having sped to the scene in his security cart before running after the alleged gunman. Survivors of the attack said Feis died while using his body to shield students from the gunfire that came from an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle. Feis was also an alum of Marjory Stoneman Douglas, having graduated in 1999.
Beigel was a geography teacher, counselor and cross-country coach at the high school, and was killed while giving shelter to students inside his classroom. He was shot while he went to lock the door after students rushed to the classroom to escape. Kelsey Friend, one of Beigel’s students, told ABC that she believes the shooter likely didn’t go inside the room after seeing Beigel’s body next to the door.
Hixon — an athletic director and wrestling coach at the school — is reported to have tried to disarm the alleged shooter.
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In the past, the Best Coach Award has typically only gone to coaches for their performance on the court or field, and past honorees include the likes of Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson, Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr and New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick.