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  • Writer's pictureCharles Cherney

136: Jimmy V

As Wikipedia notes, Jim Valvano (March 10, 1946 – April 28, 1993), nicknamed Jimmy V, was an American college basketball player, coach and broadcaster. Valvano had a successful coaching career with multiple schools, most notably at North Carolina State University. While the head coach at NC State, his team won the 1983 NCAA Division I men's basketball title against improbable odds. Valvano is most remembered for his ecstatic celebration after winning the national championship game against the heavily-favored Houston Cougars.

Valvano is also remembered for an inspirational and memorable speech delivered at the 1993 ESPY Awards while terminally ill with cancer. Valvano implored the audience to laugh, think, and cry each day and announced the formation of The V Foundation for Cancer Research whose motto would be "Don't give up. Don't ever give up." He gave the speech less than two months before his death from adenocarcinoma.

Recently, I watched Survive and Advance, the compelling ESPN documentary on Coach Jimmy V and the 1983 NC State championship team. I fought back tears more than once while watching this. I encourage you to watch it. Here is the trailer to give you a taste:

After watching the documentary, I found Jimmy V's speech in 1993 at NC State, marking the tenth anniversary of the 1983 team's national championship. This does make me cry. Jimmy V died just a few months later.


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