“Don’t give up, don’t ever give up!”

March 4, 1993, twenty years ago today, Jimmy Valvano received the Arthur Ashe Courage and Humanitarian Award at the ESPY Awards.  This marks the twentieth anniversary of what is without a doubt, one of the most moving and greatest speeches in the history of sports award shows, and perhaps life in general.  Jimmy V was literally on his deathbed, his body consumed with cancerous tumors, but he was determined to make the trip to receive his award and speak to those who had known and supported him in the world of sports.  He and his wife were accompanied on the plane trip by Coach K and his wife who recalled today on ESPN just how week and sick Jimmy V was, throwing up constantly.  He did not see how he would possibly be able to attend the event and make a speech.  But hey, we are talking about Jimmy V, a man whose foundation for cancer research has the motto made famous in that speech, “Don’t give up, don’t ever give up!”  Watching the replay today, I cried.  I remember watching it twenty years ago, and I cried.  If this does not move you, you need to check yourself, to say you are missing a sensitivity chip would be a gross understatement!  On that night, Jimmy V struggled to make it to the podium and then proceeded to announce that he would be ignoring the blinking green light letting him know his “time was up”.  Time was precious to him, as it should be in all our lives.  Life is precious and you never know when…anyhow, he went on to talk about the three keys to a successful and full day, 1) laugh (so important!), 2) think, and 3) be moved to tears (ie feel something that moves you).  Do those three things he said, and you have had a GREAT day!  How wise was Jimmy V!  He signed off by saying that while his body was ravaged by cancer, it would never destroy his mind, his heart and his soul.  They all live on even today.  Every time you see him say those now famous words, “don’t give up, don’t ever give up”, cry, smile and let it be a motto by which we all should aspire to live.  And also, give anything you can to support cancer research!


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