Caitlyn Jenner got a standing ovation after a 10-minute speech accepting the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPYs Wednesday night.
Her speech urged acceptance for others who are transgender.
The annual ESPY awards honors the year's top athletes and sports moments.
"This transition has been harder on me than anything I can imagine," said Jenner, who recently re-inroduced herself after living a lifetime as Bruce Jenner, 1976 Olympic decathlon champion.
As Bruce, Caitlyn was married and divorced twice. Most of her children and stepchildren were at the event.
Abby Wambach of the U.S. soccer team that won the Women's World Cup presented the Arthur Ashe trophy to Jenner.
Jenner’s voice broke as she thanked members of her famous family, including stepdaughters Kim and Khloe Kardashian. Tears welled in the eyes of Jenner's younger daughter, Kylie, whose sister, Kendall, wiped a tear from her eye.
"I never wanted to hurt anyone else, most of all my family and my kids," said Jenner, wiping her eye.
She admitted that until earlier this year she had never met another transgender person.
The 65-year-old told the audience about trans teenagers who are bullied, beaten up, murdered or kill themselves. Jenner mentioned two people by name whose deaths particularly touched her.
"Trans people deserve something vital, they deserve your respect," she said. "From that respect comes a more compassionate community."
Jenner urged the crowd that included football, basketball, baseball and hockey superstars to remember what they say and do is "absorbed and observed by millions of people, especially young people."
"My plea for you tonight is one join me in making this one of your issues as well," she said.
Many in the crowd watched intently as Jenner spoke with little reaction on their faces.
"If you want to call me names, make jokes and doubt my intentions, go ahead because the reality is I can take it," she said. "But for thousands of kids out there coming to terms with the reality of who they are they shouldn't have to take it."
A video narrated by "Mad Men" actor Jon Hamm traced Jenner's life from the time when she was known as Bruce Jenner to her current transition. She mentioned she once considered ending her own life with a gun she owned.
She was shown applying makeup, buttoning her blouse in her closet and fastening the strap on her heeled shoes.
With her trembling hands clasped in front of her, Jenner joked with the audience about her struggle to select the cream gown she wore.
"OK girls, I get it," she said, as the audience laughed. "You to get the shoes, the hair, the makeup, it was exhausting. And the fashion police, please be kind on me. I'm new at this."
Jenner didn't walk the red carpet outside the Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles, and she didn't appear backstage to talk with reporters, as most of the previous Ashe award recipients have done. ESPN said Jenner wanted her onstage comments to stand.
Jenner's reality series called "I Am Cait" debuts July 26.
AP contributed to this report. To watch Caitlyn Jenner's full acceptance speech, click here.
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