Monday, April 15, 2013

Jim Valvano’s Immortal Speech

By Dan Longarino

Jim Valvano, also known as “Jimmy V” or “Coach V,” left quite the legacy when he passed. Valvano played college basketball for Rutgers, coached college basketball for over 19 years at North Carolina State, won a NCAA championship and maintained a successful career in sports broadcasting. While these feats should in no way be discounted, Valvano may perhaps be remembered most by his motivational speech to the world while accepting a Humanitarian Award during the 1993 ESPYS.

In June 1992, Valvano was diagnosed with bone cancer. Shortly after, he learned the cancer had metastasized and he would not live for much longer. Despite such tragic news, Jimmy V still took the stage that March during the ESPY awards. The ESPY’s are a sports award show and Valvano was being honored with the inaugural Arthur Ashe Courage and Humanitarian Award. He proceeded to deliver an incredible, heart wrenching speech that would resonate in the minds of millions for years to come.

Holding nothing back, Coach V addressed his diagnosis with confidence and dignity. Valvano discussed how important his family was to him, urged the audience to enjoy their lives, stay positive and not be sad. He even joked around at points. For example when his speech began to run long he stated, “That screen is flashing up there thirty seconds, like I care about that screen right now, huh? I got tumors all over my body. I'm worried about some guy in the back going thirty seconds? You got a lot, hey va fa a napoli, buddy. You got a lot...”.
Valvano’s closing is perhaps the most memorable and moving parts of the whole night.  Before leaving the stage he states:

“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.”
Unfortunately, Jim Valvano passed away less than two months after giving that speech, but left behind a legacy. Years later people still re-listen to his words to find motivation and humility. Many find it incredible how a man facing certain death is able to stand in front of the world on national television, keep himself together and deliver such a powerful message. If you have not already heard it, go to Youtube and search for this speech. I challenge you to watch it without becoming emotionally invested. Whether you cry or have a new outlook on life, Jimmy V’s speech will live on for many years to come and influence anyone who listens.

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