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John Cena tackles hosting The ESPYS, singing a love song, My Wish and more

At the Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles, host John Cena rehearses for tonight's ESPYS Presented by Capital One. (Eddie Perlas/ESPN Images)
At the Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles, host John Cena rehearses for tonight’s 2016 ESPYS Presented by Capital One. (Eddie Perlas/ESPN Images)
The spirit and tone of the show is: three hours of everything. I admire what the show does, because it is a show where you can celebrate achievement, you can laugh and at the same point you can be moved emotionally…
– John Cena on hosting
The ESPYS

Live crowds are nothing new for WWE Superstar John Cena, but tonight will be a first for him as he hosts The 2016 ESPYS live on ABC (8 p.m. ET).

Cena made time in his busy rehearsing schedule to talk to Front Row about the creative process, his choice of love song should he serenade an athlete as a previous host did and his thoughts on SportsCenter’s “My Wish” series.

How much are you involved in the ESPYS writing process? What’s it like collaborating within the spirit and tone of the show?
At the time I answer this question, I am surrounded by ESPYS writers. The spirit and tone of the show is: three hours of everything. I admire what the show does, because it is a show where you can celebrate achievement, you can laugh, and at the same point you can be moved emotionally… And it gets you to think. It’s one of the very rare programs that has all of that combined under one roof.

As an ESPYS host, Jamie Foxx famously serenaded Serena Williams. If you were to follow his lead, which athlete would you sing a song for and why?
That is an easy one. I would sing Etta James’ “At Last” to the love of my life, [wrestler] Nicole Garcia Colace, who’s going to be in the crowd.

What’s your favorite ESPYS moment from previous shows?
There are so many great moments, but most recently I think the most moving moment has been Stuart Scott’s speech. And I think that really resonates with everybody.

You’ve granted many Make-A-Wish requests. What do you think of the ESPN “My Wish” SportsCenter series?
I’ve been part of the “My Wish” SportsCenter series. I think it’s fantastic, because I know firsthand it was very difficult to publicize the work I do with Make A Wish. I didn’t want it to be misinterpreted. But by doing so, and by the “My Wish” series, people now understand and they can see the joy it can bring these families. And often times, the hope. And that equals time, which is priceless. It gives these kids a chance to live their wish even larger and makes the communities around them aware of what Make A Wish is and hopefully they get more funding.

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