Jim Valvano, also known as Jimmy V, was the head basketball coach at North Carolina State University and won the 1983 NCAA Basketball Tournament against Houston, who was a heavy favorite. Valvano is not only remembered for running up and down the court after winning the 1983 NCAA championship, seemingly in disbelief and looking for someone to hug, but also for his inspirational 1993 ESPY Awards speech, given just eight weeks before he died of cancer.
Valvano was diagnosed with bone cancer in June 1992. In July, he found out that the cancer spread throughout his body, giving him little hope to survive.
On March 3, 1993, shortly before his death, he spoke at the first ESPY Awards, presented by ESPN. While accepting the inaugural Arthur Ashe Courage and Humanitarian Award, he announced the creation of The Jimmy V Foundation, an organization dedicated to finding a cure for cancer. He announced that the Foundation’s motto would be “Don’t Give Up . . . Don’t Ever Give Up.” During his speech, the teleprompter stated that he had 30 seconds left, to which Valvano responded, “They got that screen up there flashing 30 seconds, like I care about that screen. I got tumors all over my body and I’m worried about some guy in the back going 30 seconds.” His speech included this statement:
“To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. And number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special.”
Valvano’s ESPY acceptance speech became legendary, and he ended his speech by saying, “Cancer can take away all of my physical abilities. It cannot touch my mind, it cannot touch my heart, and it cannot touch my soul. And those three things are going to carry on forever. I thank you and God bless you all.”
He received a standing ovation from the ESPY crowd and since then became a vibrant symbol against cancer.
Watch this video in full and you will truly be touched. This really hits home and will make you appreciate your life because it could be gone in an instant.