The Best List: Jimmy Valvano’s ESPY Speech

Each summer ESPN holds ‘Jimmy V’ week in which they attempt to raise as much money for cancer research as possible through the organization named after the famous coach. In case you’re unfamiliar, Jimmy ‘V,’ or coach Valvano, was the head coach at NC State from 1980-1990, winning the national championship in ’83. He died way too young at the age of 47 due to cancer, but not before giving what is possibly — most certainly in my opinion — the best public speech by a sports figure in history.

If you watch any ESPN whatsoever, you’ve been hearing a lot about Jimmy V and ‘The V Foundation,’ recently because the annual ESPY Awards are Wednesday night; it was in 1993 — the inaugural year of the ESPY Awards — when Coach V was given the honorary “Arthur Ashe Courage Award,” and because of his fight with cancer, gave a speech that the network plays every year to this day.

Here is the speech in its entirety. If you haven’t seen it, it’s worth the full 11 minutes. If you’re like me and you watch it each year, enjoy. I hope you find it as inspiring as I do.

Coach V would pass just weeks following this incredible speech. 


You can donate to the Jimmy V Fund for cancer research here.

This was not in any way a paid advertisement from the non-profit or from ESPN. This piece simply came from a writer who is a huge sports fan and finds incredible inspiration from an old ball coach who touched so many lives before his premature death.

“Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.” 

Josh Helmuth is the editor of CraveOnline Sports. 

‘The Best List’ is a featured list honoring the greatest moments in sports history.


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