Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Jim Valvano's Speech

Update: I note that the YouTube clip below is no longer available, but I provide a new link to it here.

I was reminded that ESPN is coming up on the airing of their annual ESPY Awards. They're silly, but they never fail to remind me of Jim Valvano's speech at the 1993 ceremony. I intended to post it on the anniversary of the ceremony, but discovered that in 1993, the awards were in March - so I would have to wait 8 months for it to come around again. Since I didn't feel like waiting, I just decided to post it:

Here's an excerpt:

...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

...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. And...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, huh? 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.

...I know, I gotta go, I gotta go, and I got one last thing and I said it before, and I'm gonna say it again: Cancer can take away all my physical ability. 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.

Valvano was a New York guy like me, and he was a hero of a family member I lost to cancer. He was also a great college basketball coach, whose career highlight was one of the all-time improbable cinderella stories. Less than 2 months after delivering this wonderful and inspiring message, he passed away.

I'll always love this speech.

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