Issue Features Eight Covers: Jake Arrieta, Elena Delle Donne, Christen Press, Conor McGregor, Von Miller, Claressa Shields, Dwyane Wade and Vince Wilfork
For NBA veteran Dwyane Wade, who was so insecure about his body as a child that he refused to swim without his shirt on, posing for the issue was a huge leap outside his comfort zone. Wade is one of 19 athletes in the ESPN the Magazine Body Issue, which hits newsstands on July 8.
“It’s bigger than me showing my body off,” Wade says. “That’s not as important to me as telling a story of overcoming a fear. It hopefully gives someone confidence to really be their authentic self.”
But for NFL nose tackle Vince Wilfork, posing came easy: “I know I don’t have the six-packs and the eight-packs and all that … but I’m perfectly fine with what I am.” Wilfork adds, “If people can look at me, look at a guy that’s 325-plus doing an issue like this, I’m pretty sure that they might have a little confidence after seeing that it’s OK to be who you are.”
Wade and Wilfork are joined by, among others, Antonio Brown of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Super Bowl MVP Von Miller of the Denver Broncos, Chicago Cubs Cy Young Award-winning pitcher Jake Arrieta, three-time WNBA All-Star and 2015 MVP Elena Delle Donne, Olympians Nathan Adrian and April Ross, and U.S. women’s national soccer team forward Christen Press.
This is the eighth annual edition of the Body Issue. It will include photos, personal interviews and videos of the athletes, including global MMA star Conor McGregor, whose interview for the Body Issue was his first following the firestorm created after his April 19 tweet suggesting that he was retiring early. Additionally, Team USA duathlete Chris Mosier, 35, is the first transgender athlete to appear in the Body Issue: “As a trans person, I was in a body that didn’t really fit me for 29 years; now I feel comfortable in my own skin. That’s something that I’m proud of and wanted to share with other people.”
“The Body Issue has evolved into a powerful storytelling platform,” says Neely Lohmann, senior deputy editor and the executive producer of The Magazine’s franchise issue. “Year after year, the athletes allow themselves to be completely vulnerable with our audience—not just in the photographs but with their interviews as well. This year we have athletes opening up in raw and moving ways about overcoming physical struggles: everything from asthma to HIV, amputation to transgender transitioning. It’s an honor to tell their stories.”
ESPN the Magazine editor-in-chief Alison Overholt adds: “The vulnerability that Neely describes—this is what continues to amaze me and what grows ever more compelling with each year that we do the Body Issue. The willingness of these athletes to share their personal journeys is stunning. They bring fans inside what it takes to build the bodies that achieve these incredible feats of sport. But they also share, unflinchingly, the mental and emotional journey they’ve each been on to embrace what is different, unique and often imperfect about their own bodies and body stories. It makes even the most elite of these athletes so very relatable and is something that will continue to draw in new fans.”
Also featured is retired diver Greg Louganis, 56, who is the oldest athlete in the issue: “It’s all about making healthy choices. I think HIV has helped motivate me mentally and physically. I look at working out and doing something physically active every day as being as important as taking my meds.”
Others in the issue include professional motocross racer Ryan Dungey, surfer Courtney Conlogue, paratriathlete Allysa Seely and U.S. Olympians Emma Coburn (steeplechase), Adeline Gray (wrestling), Nzingha Prescod (fencing) and gold medalist Claressa Shields (boxing).
About the Body Issue
ESPN The Magazine’s Body Issue set out eight years ago with one mission: to celebrate and explore the athletic form through powerful images and interviews. The cornerstone of each annual issue is the Bodies We Want photo portfolio, which features the world’s most elite athletes posing (tastefully) nude. In years past, The Mag has featured sports icons including Venus Williams, Michael Phelps, Marshawn Lynch, Kevin Love, Bryce Harper, Amy Purdy, Candace Parker, Prince Fielder, Hope Solo, Kerri Walsh Jennings (who posed eight months pregnant!), Apolo Anton Ohno and 77-year-old golf legend Gary Player. ESPN The Magazine has a circulation of 14 million readers, with 2.1 million subscribers. But the Body Issue reaches far beyond just sports fans.
Special feature: ESPN and Gatorade for the first time in Body Issue history, collaborated to create the first bonus cover featuring an unidentifiable athlete. This special cover features the outline of an athlete made up entirely of data points. The unique visualization technique brings to life what Gatorade scientists see when conducting athlete testing: an array of data points that reflect an athlete’s training, recovery and fuel intake. The bonus cover can be revealed only using the Shazam app to unlock the athlete’s identity and other behind-the-scenes imagery. See image here: http://bit.ly/29OHPrq.
Additional issue highlights and features:
Don’t Miss: “Michael Phelps’ Final Turn” With his curtain call weeks away, the greatest swimmer of all time hopes to put his nightmares behind him and embrace life on dry land. By Wayne Drehs http://es.pn/28SH9UE
Voices: In life and now in death, Gordie Howe, Muhammad Ali and Pat Summitt stood for something bigger than themselves. They embodied what we hope to be the best of ourselves. June was a terrible month in a solemn year, but there’s a solace gained from knowing they left with their dignity intact despite prolonged circumstances of the worst kind. By Tim Keown
The Numbers: Soccer is known as a possession-based sport, but columnist Peter Keating examines what works best for underdogs: Turns out, it’s forcing turnovers. Using Iceland’s surprising run in Euro 2016, Keating looks at whether there might even be a Moneyball strategy to building an underdog.
Olympics: Simone Biles is the most decorated American female gymnast in World Championships history, with a total of 14 medals, 10 of them gold. But nothing comes easy for the 19-year-old: Not only does she land moves her rivals won’t even attempt, she must navigate issues of family and race they never have to consider. Presented in collaboration with The Undefeated. By Lonnae O’Neal http://bit.ly/29j6TGK
NBA: When Ben Simmons was drafted No. 1 by the Sixers, it was the culmination of three years of rebuilding, led by former GM Sam Hinkie. This past April, just before his plan was about to pay off, Hinkie resigned from his post. This is the behind-the-scenes story of Hinkie’s “Process” and, ultimately, his demise. Presented in collaboration with TrueHoop. By Jordan Brenner http://es.pn/29oVW6D
MLB: Following the 2002 season, the Boston Red Sox had a list of nine candidates penciled in for time at first base and designated hitter. But Theo Epstein saw something in former Twin David Ortiz, then a free agent. The rest, as they say, is history. Howard Bryant examines the story of the months between November 2002 and May 2003, when a player nobody wanted, just one of nine, became a legend a city couldn’t do without.
MLB: Aaron Boone and John Kruk discuss which pitchers should start the All-Star Game and the difficulty managers have in employing their roster.
Carrie Kreiswirth, ESPN PR at [email protected]