In 1993, historic sports figure Jim Valvano, who was suffering from cancer at the time, was helped to the ESPY Awards stage by Dick Vitale. Valvano gave a memorable speech of inspiration and after his death, the award ceremony dedicated a category to his legacy.
Nearly three decades after the speech that forever changed the Awards, Vitale himself won the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance.
In October of last year, the iconic sports commentator announced that he was diagnosed with lymphoma and would be undergoing treatment for the disease. Continuing to dedicate himself to his work while also going through chemotherapy, he was able to proudly say his cancer was in remission by April 2022. Considering the way he commits to work, it is no surprise that the 83-year-old was honored as this year’s winner of the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance.
“I am in awe of all of the athletes that are here today and the greatness that you possess. The greatness is unbelievable,” Vitale began in his acceptance speech. “You should be so proud.”
During his speech, he also paid homage to his deceased friend, noting the impact Valvano had on others going through cancer treatment. “Back on March 4, 1993, I stood here and I introduced, at Madison Square Garden, at the very first ESPYs, my buddy Jimmy V,” he reflected.
As Vitale conitnue, he recalled the story of bringing Valvano the onto stage, despite the fact that Valvano was very ill. The commentator brainstomred ways to keep his friend comfortable, but Valvano insisted on being brought to the stage. Vitale explained, “Jimmy had some choice words. He told Mike and I just get me on the effing stage. Get me on that stage. We got him on that stage. I was mesmerized, blown away as he electrified the nation, and that speech.”
Dick Vitale shares his gratitude for the V foundation and cancer research
“We have raised $300 million in his name. Think about that — $300 million! Think about that. Think about his legacy,” he added, acknowledging the establishment of the V foundation, a memorial fund dedicated to cancer research. “…A legacy that you can have an unbelievable effect on so many people battling cancer. And that is what Jimmy has done. Save lives. He will go on generation after generation and that is a great legacy to have.
In addition to paying tribute to his late freind, Vitale thanked his family and friends for supporting him through the incredibly difficult time.
“I sit here and I tell you, obviously my case, it has been a tough eight months. It has been a journey that has been tough,” he said. “I want my whole family to stand up… I want to thank them, caregivers. As a caregiver, they were unbelievable for me. They took care of me like you couldn’t believe. I want to thank, certainly, unbelievable, the incredible love that I got from ESPN, my second family.”
At The Buzzer, or ATB is the place for those who love sports, life, family, community, and so much more. We are far from the run-of-the-mill 24/7 sports news websites. We not only bring you what’s happening in the world of sports in terms of trades and breaking news, but we also bring you the news that goes on behind the scenes, like big life moments, and so much more. So take a minute and read one of our articles, we promise you won't regret it.