Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Don't give up ... Don't ever give up

It has been more than 15 years since Jim Valvano delivered his "Don't give up" speech at the ESPY's and to a crowd at NC State and it still gets me to this day.

ESPN can be accused of over hyping a lot of things. Every week on the network has some sort of corny tag like "Rivalry Week" or "Showdown Week" or the build up to the "Collision in the Coliseum."

Most of the time it is just some petty attempt to hype something that either A) doesn't need hype to begin with, or B) isn't really that big of a deal, but ESPN is trying to convince everyone it it. Usually it is the latter.

But with "Jimmy V Week," they have flat out nailed it. The cause aside, Jimmy V Week is such a special week because we get to relive the speech Jim Valvano gave on the podium at the ESPY's in 1993. I don't think I got choked up the first time I saw the speech, because I was a sophomore in high school and you just didn't do that.

But at the time, I had not had anyone in my life fight cancer. As a 31-year-old with a family, it is much different. I can relate more to what Jimmy V was saying on that night as his gestures and nods to his family really hits home.

Every year during the Jimmy V Classic I try to catch the speech between games. If I am not home I try to record it. By the time it is done, I always have a massive knot in my throat and usually a little moisture in the eyes.

I was talking to a group of students a few weeks ago, and I was amazed they have never seen the speech before. I have to remember they weren't born yet when Jimmy V was running around the court in 1983 after winning the national championship. When he was giving his speech in 1993 they were about eight years old and more concerned about a lot of other things on TV than some old coach wearing a tux and speaking to a group of people they had never heard of.

I told them all to google his speech and watch it. I don't know if any of them ever did. So if you are reading this, I have found a link to the speech and you now have no excuse for not watching it.

My brother knows how much I liked Jimmy V even before he passed away, and especially how much I have grown to like him in the years since. For my birthday he ordered a DVD of the ESPY speech from the V Foundation and with the DVD came a blue wrist band with "Don't give up ... Don't ever give up" written on it.

No matter what the situation, where I am or what the dress code is, I don't take that band off. In fact since I have had it, I have worn it more than my wedding band. Without really even thinking about it, not a week goes by I don't stop and look at it and think about the words written on it.

In Jimmy V's speech he has another part I think of quite a bit and repeat to other people at times:

"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. 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. 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

Not a day goes by that I don't laugh and at least spend some time in thought. I probably don't cry enough for Jimmy V's liking, but I guess that is what his video is for. It is amazing how often at the end of the night that I have had a really bad day that I think back and realize I just blew through the day and didn't spend time doing any of the things Jimmy V talked about doing every day.

This turned into being much longer than I was anticipating it being. I really just wanted to get a link of the speech up. Now I am not really sure how I want to close it, so I guess I do it the same way Jimmy V did.

"I thank you and God bless you all."

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