The family of slain Iowa high school football coach Ed Thomas was honored Wednesday night at the ESPYs in Los Angeles for their courage to forgive.
The Arthur Ashe Courage Award was presented to Thomas' wife Jan and his sons, Aaron and Todd. Thomas, who coached Aplington-Parkersburg high school for 2 1/2 decades, was shot and killed by a former player in June of 2009. Before presenting the award to the Thomas family, ESPN aired a moving tribute to the man who lived by the words “faith, family and football.” Thomas was the 2005 NFL High School Coach of the Year and coached four players who went on to play in the NFL.
The video told the story of how Thomas was killed by former player Mark Becker in the football team's weight room last summer and how the Thomas family openly forgave and embraced the Becker family after the shooting. Becker's younger brother played on the high school team last season under Thomas' sons.
“Without our faith I don't think there's any way we could get through this tragedy,” Todd Thomas told the audience after receiving the award.
Past recipients of the Ashe Award include Nelson Mandella and Muhammed Ali.