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South Carolina basketball star Aliyah Boston turned down a last-minute invite from ESPN to attend its award ceremony Wednesday after initially not making the network’s guest list for the ESPYs.
Boston expressed hurt, suggesting ESPN only changed its mind on the invite after concerns about her invitation went viral on social media.
Boston was nominated for the best college athlete in women’s sports, but the award went to Oklahoma softball star Jocelyn Alo.
Aliyah Boston of the South Carolina Gamecocks reacts during the national championship trophy presentation after defeating the Connecticut Huskies 64-49 in the 2022 NCAA women’s basketball national championship game at Target Center April 3, 2022, in Minneapolis. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
“To be nominated for an ESPY this year meant the world to me and my family,” Boston wrote. “While it hurt finding out that they wouldn’t be televising the category despite it being televised last year, and had no intentions for me to attend … it hurt more to see ESPN change course and invite me only after social media caught wind of it. Respectfully, I declined.”
ESPN said with COVID restrictions and a “new venue with much less seating capacity than previous shows, ‘The 2022 ESPYs’ prioritized athlete invitations to focus on specific awards that will be handed out during the broadcast.”
But Boston said it was just an excuse.
Aliyah Boston of the South Carolina Gamecocks cuts down a piece of the net after defeating the Connecticut Huskies 64-49 in the 2022 NCAA women’s basketball national championship game at Target Center April 3, 2022, in Minneapolis. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
“I’m used to this. It’s just another moment when the disrespect and erasure of Black women is brushed off as a ‘mistake’ or an ‘oversight.’ Another excuse for why our milestones and accomplishments aren’t a ‘priority’ this time, even now, 50 years after Title IX,” she added.
“To every Black girl and every Black woman: no one can take away what God has in store for us. You matter. You are valuable. You are a priority. You are seen, and you are LOVED — don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”
South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston smiles after beating Connecticut in the national championship game April 3, 2022, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)
South Carolina women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley expressed her anger about the lack of an invitation for her star player.
Boston helped the Gamecocks to a championship in 2022 and won the NCAA Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, Naismith College Player of the Year, the John R. Wooden Award, the Wade Trophy, the AP Women’s College Basketball Player of the Year and the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Ryan Gaydos is the sports editor for Fox News and Fox Business. Story tips can be sent to Ryan.Gaydos@fox.com.