Earlier this month, I was sitting on the couch with my son Ian watching SportsCenter. A story came on about Jim Valvano’s 1993 speech at the ESPY’s. Ian was about to change channels when I said, “Wait, we need to watch this. It’s one of the greatest speeches of all time.”
Ian, looked at me like I was a little crazy, but did turn his attention to the speech.
I’ve seen it a dozen times, but still sat enthralled as Coach Valvano was helped up to the podium to give his speech. He reminded the crowd that he had tumors racing through his body and was not sure how much longer he had to live and as a result, he was going to talk as long as he wanted – regardless of the teleprompter warnings.
Jim closed out his speech with a famous piece of advice:
“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 got goose bumps, a lump in my throat and almost cried. In fact, I am getting emotional as I reread this piece. He is dying and very soon will need to say goodbye to everyone he loves. Yet, all he cares about at this very moment is inspiring others.
Coach Valvano inspired millions that night. However, that was just the start of his inspiration. That speech officially launched the “The V Foundation for Cancer Research” which has raised more than $100 million to fight cancer.
Less than 2 months after his talk at the ESPY’s Coach V lost his battle with cancer. Yet nearly 20 years later he still inspires with his legacy.
Who inspires you?