Jimmy V's legacy will live on forever
One of my ultimate memories goes back to the very first ESPY Awards in 1993 and the announcement of the Arthur Ashe award. It seems like only yesterday. I remember sitting in the green room, waiting for my chance to introduce former college coach and ESPN analyst Jim Valvano as the recipient of the first Arthur Ashe Courage Award.I remember being so nervous and asking for advice. Standing right there was one of the great actors of our time, an All-Rolls Roycer: Dustin Hoffman. His job was to explain what the Ashe Award is all about. Arthur Ashe was a champion in so many ways -- a winner both on the court and in life. Wow, I was going up (after being introduced by Hoffman) to talk about Jimmy V. I still get goose bumps when I think of that moment. I reflect on how Jimmy struggled so hard in his fight against cancer -- and how he struggled to make the journey from Raleigh, N.C., just to be present at the first ESPYs in New York City. Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski and his wife Mickie were on a flight with Jimmy, who was ill on the plane. Jimmy had to be in a wheelchair at the hotel in New York. I have so much respect for Coach K both on the court and as a humanitarian. He and his wife helped Jimmy so much on that trip to the ESPYs. I remember the night before, talking to Jimmy's lovely wife Pam. She told me Jimmy was down after learning at his regular checkup that the cancer had spread throughout his body. I remember speaking to Jimmy, and we were both in tears. He shared with me his feelings about his children, Nicole, Leann and Jamie -- how much he loved them and how he would miss so much of their lives. Jimmy said he wasn't thinking about going to the ESPYs, but only about his family.
It's only fitting that our Jimmy V Week content will be incorporated into so many of our spectacular games from college football to the NBA and eventually culminating on ESPN Classic On Dec. 4 with that infamous 1983 NCAA title game versus Houston. What a memory that was, watching the North Carolina State head coach run up and down the court after winning with the championship with his copious grin.
If only he were around today to see the depth of this season's diaper dandies. He'd be so impressed with the brilliant performances of Derrick Rose of Memphis, Michael Beasley of Kansas State, UCLA's Kevin Love and O.J. Mayo of USC. Rose was electric in two wins in the 2K Sports event benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer. But we know that Jimmy will be watching from heaven and loving every moment of it. And, I'm sure he is even more proud of the ongoing endeavor to eradicate the disease that ultimately claimed his life.
It began with a dream from Jimmy shortly after he was diagnosed with cancer in 1993. And today, thanks to so many people involved, we have raised more than $70 million. I am so proud of everyone involved in this effort.
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