Michelle Obama earns loud ovation from athletes at The ESPYS

LOS ANGELES (AP) Michelle Obama returned to the spotlight as a presenter at The ESPYS, drawing the loudest ovation at the awards show honoring the past year's best athletes and moments in sports.

The former first lady made a rare public appearance since leaving the White House in January. She presented the Arthur Ashe Courage Award posthumously to Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founder of Special Olympics. Shriver's son, Tim, accepted on Wednesday night in Los Angeles.

''I am here tonight to honor a remarkable woman, a woman who believed that everyone has something to contribute and everyone deserves a chance. When we give others the chance to fulfill their greatest potential, we all win,'' Obama said before being joined onstage by eight Special Olympics athletes. ''Through her passionate service, she made our world more welcoming, inclusive and fair.''

Shriver accepted the silver trophy from Obama.

''Once a great first lady, still a great first lady,'' he said as the crowd roared.

Obama smiled with her arm on one of the athletes as Shriver urged that more work needs to be done to achieve equality toward people with intellectual disabilities.

''Our mother would have loved you,'' he said. ''She would have loved your forthrightness, your honesty, your toughness, your commitment also to get everybody on the playing field. She would have been so honored that you are here for her tonight as we all are.''

Obama walked off stage sharing a hug with one of the female athletes.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide — from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Grant Wahl, Andy Staples and more — delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.