Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Laugh, Think, Cry

I noticed this morning that by 2010, cancer will replace heart disease as the world's number one killer. I was a little surprised that it wasn't already. It's hard to imagine that there isn't a person or family that you know that hasn't been affected by this disease.

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.


Bob said...

I was a student at NCSU when he was there and, as a member of the band, got to meet Coach V (and the players on that National Championship team -- sorry 'bout that, btw). He really was an awesome person.

Anonymous said...

Wow. And you know? I'm thankful for modern technology because in the ability to record and play image and sound, he will never ever pass from memory.

Robin said...

I may have to scrape a few pennies together for that. After all, my step-mother had successful breast cancer surgery earlier this year. Plus, a good friend's wife is no longer in remission, and this may be her last Christmas.

Jimmy V is still a big name here. Sadly I never knew him in life, as I'm not a basketball fan, and he died 3 years before I moved to NC. But I know him now.

Bee said...

My favorite bit is 7:40 to 8:00. He is so right: We have to treat our lives like they are precious. I like the laughing/thinking/crying advice, too.

Brave Sir Robin said...

Bob - Wow! That must have been amazing. Everyone I've ever heard talk about him say he had an amazing presence. . . . . Baritone?

Christina - Yes, just a few years ago, it wouldn't be readily available. My kids don't know how good they have it!

Robin - My Mom is a breast cancer survivor. It has been about 4 years.

Bee - If only we could remember that everyday. It kind of goes with your "time" post from the other day.

Boxer rebel said...

This is simply an amazing speech. I have seen it I am not sure how many times and yet every time I sit in amazement at the wisdom that Jimmy V. gives out and I get choked up every time as well.

Thank you for posting this again.

Brave Sir Robin said...

Boxer -

I am not sure how many times and yet every time I sit in amazement at the wisdom that Jimmy V. gives out and I get choked up every time

Me too.
Every time.

Audrey said...

Great speeches are like great poems--they just keep giving you something. I have never heard this before but I'm going to play it again today for my son.

Thanks for sharing this.

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