After an arduous year of fighting cancer and vocal chord displaysia, legendary basketball broadcaster Dick Vitale has received the go-ahead from his doctor to speak at tonight’s ESPYs, ESPN’s annual awards show honoring the best in sports. He will be receive the 2022 Jimmy V Award for Perseverance, named after his dear friend and former broadcast partner, according to Bleacher Report.
The 83-year-old was diagnosed with melanoma in the summer of 2021 and underwent multiple surgeries, according to ESPN. Then, in October, he announced he’d been diagnosed with lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system. The treatment plan would be steroids and several months of chemotherapy, he said in a statement at the time.
Still undergoing cancer treatment, the Basketball Hall of Famer returned to the airwaves on Nov. 23, 2021 to announce the game between Gonzaga and UCLA in Las Vegas, according to Sports Illustrated. But after calling five games in 12 days, his voice wasn’t holding up. He’d had surgery in 2008 for ulcerated vocal cords, but this time the pre-cancerous lesions were so severe that he was forced to rest his voice, undergo two more surgeries, and take the rest of the season off.
Now, after following his doctors’ orders, he is both cancer-free and able to speak again to the fans and athletes who adore him.
Vitale’s Doctor Clears Him To Speak During July Exam
After an exam at Boston’s Mass General Hospital on July 15, Vitale posted a video on Instagram of Dr. Steven Zeitels sharing his current status and clearing him to speak at the ESPYs.
“So, Dick, you’re almost entirely healed now and I’m really pleased with where things are at, Dr. Zeitels said, calling his progress fabulous. After looking at new images of the vocal chords, he said that he saw almost no disease there, which inspired Vitale to give his doctor a fist bump.
While his vocal chords are “vibrating beautifully” right now, Dr. Zeitels warned Vitale that he will need to be vigilant about resting his voice and limit how much he uses it.
“But as long as you’re thoughtful about it, I will keep you going to 100,” he said, which got a huge smile from Vitale, known to fans as Dickie V.
In April, upon sharing the news that seven months of chemotherapy had put his lymphoma into remission, Vitale told USA Today that not talking was one of the hardest parts of his health hurdles.
“Not having a voice, I felt totally trapped,” he said.
Jimmy V Award Holds Extraordinary Meaning for Dickie V
Receiving the Jimmy V Award is especially meaningful to Vitale, who has been a strong advocate for cancer patients for decades, raising more than $50 million for the V Foundation for Cancer Research through his annual Dick Vitale Gala, specifically for funding research on pediatric cancers.
The V Foundation founded by ESPN and legendary basketball coach Jim Valvano in 1993 to achieve “Victory Over Cancer.” Vitale was Valvano’s ESPN broadcast partner and presented him with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the very first ESPYs in March of that year. Valvano made a famously impassioned speech after receiving the award, and died of cancer less than two months later.
The Jimmy V Award was founded in 1997, according to The Sporting News, and is given to a person “who has overcome great obstacles through perseverance and determination.”
Upon learning he’d be this year’s recipient, Vitale said in a statement, “I remember that day almost 30 years ago, when I stood onstage at the first ESPYS, introduced Jimmy V and witnessed him give that incredible speech we all remember. I reflected on his speech many times during my seven-month battle — ‘don’t give up, don’t ever give up, Dickie V’ — and I remembered my mother and father, who taught me never to believe in ‘can’t.’ Jimmy V was special and his legacy lives on. I am so grateful to receive this tremendous award in his honor.”