Liam Hendriks

Liam Hendriks gushes over his wife Kristi in Jimmy V speech

NBC Universal, Inc.

When Liam Hendriks got onstage to accept the 2023 Jimmy V Award at the ESPYs on Wednesday, the first thing he did was silence the crowd's standing ovation to acknowledge his wife Kristi.

"Thank you guys for standing up for me," Hendriks said. "I appreciate it, but the real hero is that little lady down there, Kristi. She’s my rock. She's the best one here."

White Sox fans are already familiar with Kristi, who's been making the media rounds with her husband to raise awareness for adolescent and young adult cancer.

But even before Hendriks' magnificent return to baseball from Stage 4 Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, Kristi made a name for herself in the community with a long list of philanthropy projects and charitable donations, which includes founding the South Slydah Society — a meal delivery program that’s donated over 1,400 meals from local, minority owned restaurants to frontline workers across Chicagoland.

“You’re only granted a platform once in your life, and if we don’t use it, what’s the point?” Kristi told NBC Sports Chicago in 2022.

She's also an outspoken advocate of the LGBTQ+ community and has been a keen participant in the White Sox' annual Pride Night at Guaranteed Rate Field.

"She is my absolute rock," Hendriks told the Dolby Theatre crowd in Los Angeles on Wednesday. "She is my world. She's the one.

"Any athlete out here who has a wife behind them or a husband or a partner, they know that when you're doing well, you sometimes need a big kick up the ass to get humbled. She's that person to me. But she's also the person that'll pick you up no matter what is going on and make you know that you're the greatest that she's ever know."

He then told Kristi the award was, "as much yours as it is mine."

Hendriks closed his speech by underscoring the major impact those closest to him had on his recovery.

“As you can tell, cancer isn't something you fight alone," he said. "My care team, family and friends — they encompass my entire heartbeat. They are my lifeline when I didn’t know if I could overcome this. They are my lifeline as I continue on my journey."

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