Wait for what head coach Derek Dooley says at the end. Language warning.
I didn’t catch any of the game but I watched this speech live because they immediately cut to it after the Tim Tebow documentary last night on ESPN. Great stuff.
By Nick Childs
I know I can’t reach the eloquence of speech that Coach Jim Valvano had and still continues to carry on through his legacy today. He is impossible to match, but this is my tribute to a man that I greatly admire.
ESPN celebrates Jimmy V week every year at the beginning of the college basketball season to celebrate his life as well as raise more money for cancer research. This is that week.
What impresses me the most is that Jimmy V wasn’t the type of person that used his position of power within society to push his own agenda to advance himself. He used his power to try to change the world for the better. And that he did, to say the least.
It wasn’t until I really tried to learn about the life of this great man that I decided I wanted to do the same. I want to get to a prominent place in society to inflict change, change that helps makes this world in which we live better. Whether it’s in a small way or enormous way, like Coach Valvano, there couldn’t be anything more fulfilling. Thankfully his life taught us how this is all possible.
What I think of when I think of Jimmy V is his acceptance speech at the ESPY Awards for the Arthur Ashe Award, and this is where Coach Valvano has influenced my life the most. No matter how many times I watch this speech, I always get choked up.
You can’t help but feel his presence, his passion and his love for life throughout this speech, and it was given right before his death in 1993 when he was struggling greatly with his battle with cancer, but as he states in the speech, “Cancer can take away all my physical abilities. But 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.”
There are four parts of the speech that distinctly stick with me. The first is Jimmy V’s theory on what a person should do every day. He says, a person should laugh, think and have your emotions moved to tears. “Think about it, if you laugh, you think and you cry, that’s a full day. Thats a heckuva day!” he says. And when you think about it, how many of us have days like this everyday? Not many.
To be able to have the passion for life to have your emotions moved to tears everyday takes an incredibly special person, and honestly, it’s not going to happen, but it is certainly something to strive for. And when days like this come along, I think we should cherish them. Take a step back and give yourself a moment to appreciate that moment and think about what brought you to that moment.
Coach then goes on to talk about three important aspects of life to reflect on. Those aspects are 1. Where you start. 2. Where you are. 3. Where you’re going to be. Again, how many of us think about this constantly? I know that I don’t, but the good thing is that it is pretty easy to change. We can all take a quick look at our own lives and think about these three things. Whether it is a look at the long term or just what your day has and will consist of, I guarantee we can all improve the quality and fulfillment of our lives.
Throughout this speech you can’t help but think about how you should improve your life, but Jimmy V doesn’t do so by bringing us down.
He inflicts this emotion while creating a feeling within that you can and you will be a better person.
When you think about where you have been, where you are and where you are going, think about what you discover. Is it where you want to be going? To insure that our lives are directed to where we want to be going, Coach Valvano insists that we do a few simple things: have enthusiasm for life, have a dream, have a goal, and be willing to work for that goal. Easy enough.
What I take from much of his teachings is that, if I stray off this course of life, it is simply because I am not thinking about and evaluating my life enough. That isn’t to say we need to stress over ever single detail, but if we start to get away from the direction we want our lives to take, it is due to a lack of these things. With all efforts to avoid being cliche, it is easy to go through our lives on auto-pilot, but that won’t bring us to where we want to be.
What really strikes and impresses me so much is his ability to keep such a light heart while talking about something so serious and while going through a great life-struggle. In spite of this, he is still able to be humorous and speak with such zest for life. Many of us can’t do this regardless of how care-free our lives are.
Maybe the most memorable part of the speech is when he addresses the moron in the back trying to tell him that he is running out of time, telling him to wrap his speech up. Jimmy V couldn’t have handled the situation any better. “I got tumors all over my body, and I’m worried about some guy, going, ’30 seconds’,” he said. This, of course, caused the crowd to burst in laughter.
“I urge you to enjoy your life, the precious moments you have, to spend each day with some laughter, some thought, to get your emotions going, to be enthusiastic ever day, and to keep your dreams alive,” he concludes.
I can thank Coach Jim Valvano every time I watch this acceptance speech because, when I do, I have a day that includes laughter, thought and my emotions moved to tears. I have a full day. So, for today, thank you, Jimmy V. I will do my best to have another full day tomorrow.
Since its creation in 1993, the Jimmy V Foundation for Cancer Research has raised more than $100 million. The foundation’s motto is “Don’t give up, don’t ever give up.” Another value we can take away from this historic speech.
You can donate online by visiting www.jimmyv.org or calling 1-800-4 JIMMY V
Again, Coach Valvano put it as no one else could. He put it perfectly: “It may not save my life. It may save my children’s lives. It may save someone you love, and it’s important.”
I would also like to take a moment to commemorate Nuggets head coach, George Karl. Coach Karl was diagnosed with cancer for the second time last year just before the playoffs, and he had a terrible battle with it. He fought through, and I am proud to say that he was the recipient of the Jimmy V Award at last years ESPYs.
We love you Coach Karl and Coach Valvano. Your heroic efforts to defeat a devastating disease is an inspiration, teaching us to be better people, leading fuller lives.
I did my best, but my words don’t do this man justice. The video is well worth the 11 minutes, and when you watch it, remove yourself from your daily distractions and soak in all aspects of the video. You won’t be disappointed.