Fier Thy Words

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"Don’t give up, don’t ever give up."

11/29/07

Before I start…I strongly URGE YOU to read the parts of the speech I posted. I promise you, its worth it…

You don’t have to be a sports fan or a basketball fan to appreciate Jim Valvano.

Valvano was a college basketball coach who won a national championship back in 1985 coaching North Carolina State on an improbable last second shot, giving a truly deserving coach, and an even more deserving human being a feeling of ecstasy he would be able to cherish the rest of his life.

It was his life that was unfortunately cut short due to cancer. And this week ESPN is doing their annual rememberance of Valvano, which included a showing of his very famous speech given in 1993 at the ESPY Awards.

I know this makes back to back posts which aren’t of the happiest manner- however if you have never heard the speach, look it up, because if you dont get goosebumps watching it, something is wrong with you.

This was a man who was as great a human being who ever lived. Period. Here are some of the things he said that night which prove why…

Thank you, Thank you very much. Thank you. That’s the lowest I’ve ever seen Dick Vitale since the owner of the Detroit Pistons called him in and told him he should go into broadcasting.

I can’t tell you what an honor it is, to even be mentioned in the same breath with Arthur Ashe. This is something I certainly will treasure forever. But, as it was said on the tape, and I also don’t have one of those things going with the cue cards, so I’m going to speak longer than anybody else has spoken tonight. That’s the way it goes. Time is very precious to me. I don’t know how much I have left and I have some things that I would like to say. Hopefully, at the end, I will have said something that will be important to other people too.

But, I can’t help it. Now I’m fighting cancer, everybody knows that. People ask me all the time about how you go through your life and how’s your day, and nothing is changed for me. As Dick said, I’m a very emotional and passionate man. I can’t help it. That’s being the son of Rocco and Angelina Valvano. It comes with the territory. We hug, we kiss, we love. When people say to me how do you get through life or each day, it’s the same thing. 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. 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.

It’s so important to know where you are. I know where I am right now. How do you go from where you are to where you want to be? I think you have to have an enthusiasm for life. You have to have a dream, a goal. You have to be willing to work for it.

I talked about my family, my family’s so important. People think I have courage. The courage in my family are my wife Pam, my three daughters, here, Nicole, Jamie, LeeAnn, my mom, who’s right here too. 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 napoli, buddy. You got a lot.

I just got one last thing, I urge all of you, all of you, to enjoy your life, the precious moments you have. To spend each day with some laughter and some thought, to get you’re emotions going. To be enthusiastic every day and as Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Nothing great could be accomplished without enthusiasm,” to keep your dreams alive in spite of problems whatever you have. The ability to be able to work hard for your dreams to come true, to become a reality.

“Don’t give up, don’t ever give up.” That’s what I’m going to try to do every minute that I have left. I will thank God for the day and the moment I have. If you see me, smile and give me a hug. That’s important to me too. But try if you can to support, whether it’s AIDS or the cancer foundation, so that someone else might survive, might prosper and might actually be cured of this dreaded disease. I can’t thank ESPN enough for allowing this to happen. I’m going to work as hard as I can for cancer research and hopefully, maybe, we’ll have some cures and some breakthroughs. I’d like to think, I’m going to fight my brains out to be back here again next year for the Arthur Ashe recipient. I want to give it next year!

I know, I gotta go, I gotta go, and I got one last thing and I said it before, and I want to say it again. 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.

I thank you and God bless you all.


This was a man who stood on National Television, knowing he was dying, and yet took the opportunity to show how strong the human spirit could be, and even though I’ve seen the speech a dozen times, I’m ready to cry by the end of it every time.

Here is to Jim Valvano, a true inspiration we could all learn something from.


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November 29, 2007 - Posted by | Sports, Thoughts

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