WATCH: Jim Valvano’s ESPYs Speech


Jim's 1993 ESPY SpeechThe V Foundation for Cancer Research was founded by ESPN and legendary basketball coach Jim Valvano with one goal in mind: to achieve victory over cancer. Since its start in 1993, the V Foundation has awarded over $250 million in cancer research grants nationwide and has grown to become one of the premier supporters of…2008-09-29T03:41:32Z

“Don’t give up, don’t ever give up.”

More than a decade after Jim Valvano said that phrase on the stage of the first-ever ESPYs, his words have resonated and inspired and, even to this day, continue to strike a chord.

Valvano, the former N.C. State men’s basketball coach whose reaction to winning the national championship in 1983 had already inspired so many, brought his usual humor and insight to winning the Arthur Ashe Courage and Humanitarian Award and his refusal to walk off the stage when the teleprompter instructed him to was a testament to his continuous fight. He announced the formation of the V Foundation for Cancer Research during his speech but it is his call to the audience to live every day to the fullest is the moment’s greatest legacy:

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. 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.

At the time of the speech Valvano was in the midst of battling a terminal cancer diagnosis and, less than two months after his moment on stage, passed away. Still, he refused to give power to the disease, telling the ESPYs crowd:

I know, I gotta go, I gotta go, and I got one last thing and I said it before, and I want to say it again. Cancer can take away all 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.

Now, years after his death, Valvano’s impact and legacy continue to live on. The V Foundation has become one of the top funding organizations in all of cancer research and, since its 1993 inception, has raised over 130 million to more than 120 facilities nationwide and awards 100% of direct cash donations to cancer research and related programs. To donate to the V Foundation for Cancer Research call 1-800-4-JIMMYV or click here.

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