It was a nice little bit of synchronicity that I saw that article this morning. I was mulling this post over in my head all night. I don't often go overly sentimental in this space, but today I want to make an exception.
We watch a lot of sports in our household. With two teenage boys and myself, if the TV is on in the evening, it is usually sports. Last night was no exception. The Longhorns were scheduled to play Villanova in the Jimmy V Classic last night in Madison Square Garden. Of course, we tuned in.
Do you know the story of Jim Valvono? Jim Valvano (Jimmy V), was a college basketball coach. He is best known as the coach of the North Carolina State team that defeated the heavily favored, high flying, Phi Slamma Jamma team of the University of Houston in 1983. That was the Houston team with future NBA hall of famers Hakeen Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. I never forgave him for that, but I digress.
Jimmy left coaching in the early 90's and turned to broadcasting. It was then that he began to earn my respect. He was an excellent basketball analyst. He knew the game, he was bright and engaging, but mostly, he just inspired me. He was always positive and upbeat, he could always find something good to say about the players or their coach. It is no surprise that he became a highly sought after motivational speaker. His motto, which is now the motto of the foundation that bears his name is Don't give up, don't ever give up.
In 1993 Jimmy was awarded the first ever Authur Ashe Courage award. His acceptance speech that night was one of the truly most inspiring moments I've ever witnessed. In his speech, he gives the audience a recipe for fulfilment:
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. And 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.
Not bad advice, is it?
So think about that today, would you? Life is so short, why not squeeze every little bit out of it? Times can be hard sometimes, but face them with enthusiasm. Life is precious, make the most of it.
In case you haven't figured it out, yes, Jimmy V died of cancer. Less than two months after his speech, he was gone. He may be gone, but his fight lives on in his foundation. To date the Jimmy V foundation has raised over $80,000,000 to fund cancer research.
This year, if there is a person on your Christmas list who has everything, a person you never know what to get, why not make a donation in their name to the Jimmy V foundation? As Jimmy said,
We need money for research. It may not save my life. It may save my children's lives. It may save someone you love.The speech is 11:15 long. I know you're busy, but it just may be the best 11 minutes you spend today. My favorite part may be around the 7:10 mark, but please, for me, watch it all.
This speech was given on March 4, 1993. Jimmy died on April 28, the same year.