Jimmy V “Don’t Ever Give Up” ESPYS Speech Transcript

Jimmy V Never Give Up Speech
RevBlogTranscriptsClassic Speech Transcripts - 1990'sJimmy V “Don’t Ever Give Up” ESPYS Speech Transcript

Full transcript of Jim Valvano “Jimmy V”‘s inspiring “Don’t give up … Don’t ever give up!” motivational speech at the ESPN ESPY Awards in 1993.

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Jim Valvano: (00:00)
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. Right, Dick? 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 was said on the tape… and I also, I don’t have one of those things going to cue cards, so I’m going to speak longer than anybody else has spoken tonight, but that’s the way it goes.

Jim Valvano: (01:43)
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’ll have something that will be important to other people too. But, I can’t help it. Now when 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 has changed for me, as Dick said. I’m a very emotional, passionate man. I can’t help it. That’s being the son of Rocco and Angelina Valvano, it just comes with the territory. We hug, we kiss, we love.

Jim Valvano: (02:18)
And 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. If we do this every day of our life, you’re going to… what a wonderful… 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.

Jim Valvano: (02:53)
And so, I can’t help. I wrote on the plane up today with Mike Krzyzewski, my good friend and a wonderful coach. What people don’t realize, he’s a 10 times better person than he is a coach, and we know he’s a great coach. He’s meant a lot to me in these last five or six months of my battle. But when I look at Mike, I think we competed against each other as players, I coached against him 15 years, and I always have to think about what’s important in life is, the thing to me, it’s three things. Where you started, where you are, and where you’re going to be. Those are the three things that I try and do every day.

Jim Valvano: (03:27)
And when I think about getting up and giving a speech, I can’t help it. I have to remember the first speech I ever gave. I was coaching at Rutgers University, that was my first job, and I was the freshman coach. That’s when freshmen played on freshman teams. And I was so fired up about my first job… I see Lou Holtz, Coach Holtz here. What was it like the first job you had, right? The very first time you stood in the locker room to give a pep talk. That’s a special place, the locker room, for a coach to give a talk.

Jim Valvano: (03:58)
So, my idol as a coach was Vince Lombardi, and I read this book called Commitment to Excellence by Vince Lombardi. And in the book, Lombardi talked about the first time he spoke before his Green Bay Packer team in a locker room. They were perennial losers. And I’m reading this and Lombardi said he was thinking, “Should it be a long talk? A short talk?” But he wanted to be emotional, so he said, “Be brief.” And this is what he did. Normally you get in the locker room twenty-five minutes, a half hour before the team takes the field, you do your little X and Os, and then you give the great Knute Rockne talk. We all do.

Jim Valvano: (04:28)
Speech number 84. You pull them right at you, you get ready, get your squad ready. Well, this is the first one I ever gave. And I read this thing Lombardi, what he said was he didn’t go in. He waited. His team was wondering, “Where is he? Where is this great coach?” He’s not there. 10 minutes, he’s still not there. Three minutes before they have to take the field, Lombardi comes in, bangs the door open, and I think you all remember what great presence he had. great presence. And he walked in and he just walked back and forth like this, just walking, staring at the players. And he said, “All eyes on me.” And I’m reading this in his book. And I’m getting a picture of this Lombardi before his first game. And he said, “Gentlemen, we will be successful this year. You can focus on three things and three things only. Your family, your religion, and the Green Bay Packers.”

Jim Valvano: (05:13)
And he… like that. And they knocked the walls down and rest was history. I said, “That’s beautiful. I’m going to do that.” Your family, your religion and Rutgers basketball. That’s it. I had it. Listen, I’m 21 years old. The kids I’m coaching on 19, all right? And I’m going to be the greatest coach in the world, the next Lombardi. And I’m ready and I’m practicing out in the right wing, right outside the locker room. The managers tell me, “You got to go in.”

Jim Valvano: (05:39)
“Not yet, not yet.” Family, religion, Rutgers basketball. All eyes on me. I got it, I got it. And now finally he said, “Three minutes.” I said, “Fine.” True story. I go to knock the doors open, just like Lombardi. Boom. It didn’t open. I almost broke my arm. You know, it was one… it didn’t open. Now I’m down to players are looking. You know, “Coach, get… Help the coach up. Help him up.” And now I did like Lombardi. I walked back and forth, and I was going like that with my arm to get the feeling back in. And finally I said, “Gentlemen, all eyes on me.” And these kids wanted to play. They’re 19. “Let’s go.” I said, “Gentlemen, we’ll be successful this year if you could focus on three things and three things only.” They said, “Yeah.” I said, “Your family, your religion and the Green Bay Packers,” I told them. I did that. I remember that.

Jim Valvano: (06:32)
I remember where I came from. It’s so important to know where you are, and I know where I am right now. How do you go from where you are to where you want to be? And I think you have to have an enthusiasm for life, you have to have a dream, a goal, and you have to be willing to work for it. I talked about my family. My family is so important. People think I have courage. The courage of my family is my wife, Pam, my three daughters here, Nicole, Jamie, Lee Ann, my mom who is right here too.

Jim Valvano: (07:00)
And that screen is flashing up there, “30 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, “30 seconds,” huh? You got a lot… Hey, [Italian 00:07:22], buddy. You got a lot… [inaudible 00:07:31]. 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 your emotions going, to be enthusiastic every day.

Jim Valvano: (07:49)
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Nothing great can 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, become a reality. Now, I look at where I am now and I know what I want to do. What I would like to be able to do is to spend whatever time I have left and to give maybe some hope to others, all right. The Arthur Ashe Foundation is a wonderful thing, and the amount of money pouring in for AIDS is not enough, but it is significant.

Jim Valvano: (08:23)
But, if I told you it’s 10 times the amount that goes in for cancer research. I’ll also tell you that 500,000 people will die this year of cancer. And I also tell you that one in every four will be afflicted with this disease. And yet for somehow, we seem to have put it in a little bit of the background. I want to bring it back on the front table. We need your help. I need your help. We need money for research. It may not save my life. It may save my children’s lives. It may save someone you love and it’s very important. And ESPN has been so kind to support me in this endeavor and allow me to announce tonight that with ESPN’s support, which means what? Their money and their dollars and they’re helping me, we are starting the Jimmy V Foundation for Cancer Research.

Jim Valvano: (09:27)
And its motto is, “Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.” And 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. And if you see me smile, and maybe give me a hug, because 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.

Jim Valvano: (09:59)
I can’t thank ESPN enough for allowing this to happen, and I’m going to work as hard as I can for cancer research. And hopefully, maybe we’ll have some cures and some breakthroughs, and 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’ve got to go, and I got one last thing. I said it before, and I’m going 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.

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