"Don't give up; don't ever give up!"
Those six words are some of the most powerful words ever said or written by any person. The words are not complicated, but they are surely profound. The words seem simple, yet any person who saw Jim Valvano speak that night knows that that speech was anything but simple for him to deliver.
At the 1993 ESPY awards, the former great NCAA Basketball coach received the "Arthur Ashe Award for Courage." His body full of tumors, his mind exhausted, and his spirit challenged, who would have thought a man in his condition could have walked onto the stage in front of millions of people to deliver what is quite possibly one of the best speeches ever given?
The audience was drowning in tears as he spoke about his battle with cancer. The tears flowed as he acknowledged his own death was on the way. Lastly, the tears rolled down every viewer's cheek as he or she realized this beautiful and passionate man had succumb to this dreadful disease—cancer.
His body may have been defeated, but his heart and soul would never be. In fact, I think Jimmy V said it best that night...
"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."
Truer words may have never been spoken. As he concluded his speech and acknowledged the standing ovation from the audience, Duke's head coach, Mike Krzyzewski, held Jimmy V at the waist alongside his other great friend, Dick Vitale. As the three men walked off the front of the stage, it was more obvious than ever how truly sick Jimmy V was.
He staggered in his friend's arms and appeared to be light-headed and mentally spent. Not only did this moment show how much of a battle he was in, but it also showed how impressive and brave this man was to have gotten up amidst this horrible illness and express how much he enjoyed life.
We can all learn from Jimmy V and his speech. "Don't ever give up!" is a quote that should always echo in your mind and heart no matter what challenges may face you.
Whether you are considering giving up on your sports career, school, or even a marriage or relationship, those words can inspire you. Life is full of challenges and it is never easy, but even though sometimes people don't act like it, we are all here in life together.
Cancer is something that probably every single person on this planet has been affected by. Whether it is a family member, friend, co-worker, somebody knows someone who has cancer or has been affected by it.
I personally just found out that a dear friend of our family has cancer in three locations, including the brain. I also have a cousin who has been getting treatments for cancer for the last few years and is still fighting bravely. Fact is, it is everywhere and is now a part of reality. We wish it was only in our nightmares...but it's not.
You are probably wondering why I am publishing this type of article on B/R. It is no secret that fans are passionate and will do anything to prove their point. However, we all need to learn from Jimmy V...we need to gain a perspective on reality and what is really important and what is not.
Sports are certainly a big part of my life and I know it is a huge part of many of your lives and that's why we are on this site. Nevertheless, sports are games, sports are fun, and sports are entertainment. We take pride in our home teams, or teams we tend to just root for but in the end these games don't end any of our lives.
Each day brings us new hope and a new chance to do something new or something for a greater cause. Tomorrow is a blessing, not a guarantee.
Jimmy V was basically dying slowly on stage that night but you would have never known it from his charisma and energy he put forth. The love and admiration he had for people and for life itself could be seen in his smile and in his glassy eyes.
On ESPN this week they are showing Jimmy V's speech before, during, and after each college basketball game. This entire week is dedicated to him and all he stood for. He knew cancer was going to get the best of him but all he cared about was the future...our children, our grandchildren.
Times are tough now due to the economy and job market but I truly hope that if any of you are out at a store or a shopping mall this holiday season and see a can or basket for cancer funding, that you would spare a dollar or even a quarter for research. Any amount helps.
Whether you like football, basketball, baseball, soccer, golf, or any other sport...cancer can find you or your loved ones.
It doesn't care if you are an SEC fan, Big 12 fan, Pac-10 fan, Big 10 fan, or any other conference fan...cancer can find you or your loved ones.
Sports can teach us life lessons and give us hope or happiness. It can also break our hearts and leave us stunned lying face down on our sofa. The good news though, you survive a loss...you survive the disappointment.
Life is too short, too fast paced for us to worry over whether Texas or Oklahoma deserve the higher ranking. Of course we can have fun debates and arguments but let's leave it at that...let's all realize there are people like Jimmy V, like my cousin, who were and are concerned with things much bigger than any sporting event could ever be.
I want to thank Jimmy V and any other person out there who is battling cancer or any kind of life-changing challenge!
Each and every time ESPN replays his breathtaking speech I find myself covered in tears. His words are more than just words...they are inspirational, they are loving, and they are all words we should replay in the back of our minds any time we let something insignificant bother us.
Teamwork is a crucial part of any athletic team so why should the game of life be any different? Why do we play against each other when we are all trying to score in the same direction? Jimmy V knew what it took and deep inside many of us we do, too...we just need to let it out more often.
Spend time with family and friends as often as possible. Don't let days pass between phone calls or emails between loved ones. Kids who have dreams of playing sports in college or in pros, keep your head held high and always know inside your heart you can accomplish anything. Even if you aren't a kid anymore, dreams still exist and can be obtained...just go do it.
To anyone that is or has been affected by cancer or any other challenging life event, "Don't give up; don't ever give up!" We won't ever give up on any of you!
I want to leave you with a few additional quotes from Jimmy V's speech that night and at the bottom I will include an embedded video for the entire speech.
"How do you go from where you are to where you wanna be? And I think you have to have an enthusiasm for life. You have to have a dream, a goal. And you have to be willing to work for it.
"Be a dreamer. If you don't know how to dream, you're dead.
"I just got one last thing, I urge all of you, all of you, to enjoy your life, the precious moments you have. To spend each day with some laughter and some thought, to get you're emotions going.
"My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me."
Believe in your kids, your parents, family and friends...believe and trust in people...if we work together things like this can be beat. Our world is a better place because Jimmy V was a part of it and our world is always in need of more Jimmy V's.
I am sorry if this article didn't make sense or moved around a lot...I just felt like, during Jimmy V week, I should write an article to keep his spirit going. God bless.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!