Carey thanks Texas for 'taking chance'

Updated: March 31, 2004, 2:02 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Texas junior guard Jamie Carey has been named the 2004 V Foundation Comeback Award winner, The V Foundation for Cancer Research announced Tuesday.

Annually awarded by The V Foundation in collaboration with ESPN, the Comeback Award is presented to a collegiate-level basketball student-athlete who embodies the spirit and courage represented by the late Jim Valvano and his memorable and motivating challenge delivered in his acceptance speech at the 1993 ESPY Awards, "Don't Give Up ... Don't Ever Give Up!"

Carey began her collegiate career at Stanford, but after one season -- in which she earned Pac-10 Freshman of the Year honors -- doctors recommended she retire after multiple concussions. Two years later, following extensive medical testing, she regained her medical clearance from the NCAA and transferred to Texas, where she led the Longhorns to the Final Four last season and to the Elite Eight last weekend.

"(Jamie) embodies the spirit of this award and is a consummate student-athlete. She excels both on the court as well as in the classroom," Foundation CEO Nick Valvano said. "She faced her physical challenge, believed in herself, fought for her eligibility both athletically and academically, and persevered. She never gave up."

Texas head coach Jody Conradt agreed with Valvano's assessment.

"There is no one more deserving," Conradt said. "Jamie lives each day to its fullest and she possesses all of the qualities exemplified by Jim Valvano. Jamie is passionate, intelligent and driven, and her personal philosophy to 'live every moment as best you can' has, in part, been shaped by the experiences and the losses she has faced in the past few years."

Carey finished her 2003-04 junior year as an All-Big 12 selection, a NCAA West Regional All-Tournament Team pick and as a finalist for The State Farm Wade Trophy and the Naismith Award as National Player of the Year. She averaged 10.7 points and had a team-high of 66 3-pointers. She led the No. 4 ranked Longhorns to a final 30-5 mark, to the Big 12 regular season championship for the second year in a row and to a NCAA Sweet 16 berth.

At Stanford, Carey was named Freshman All-American and was the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year in 1999-2000. She missed two seasons following post-concussive symptoms which forced her to leave competitive play at Stanford and retire with an NCAA medical hardship in November 2000, her sophomore year. A month later, her family was struck by great personal tragedy with the suicide of her older brother, Josh, a student at the University of Colorado.

The post-concussion symptoms plagued Carey, affecting her concentration, her academic studies and memory. Her frequent memory lapses even forced her to switch her major from an interdisciplinary study of philosophy and computer science to a theory-based major (sociology/social work).

Unable to receive medical clearance to continue play at Stanford, Carey pursued her options with independent medical specialists across the country. Following extensive medical testing, and with the assistance of Stanford working together with Texas, she regained her medical clearance from the NCAA. She transferred to Texas prior to her junior year (2002-03).

Due to Carey's unique medical history, she successfully petitioned the NCAA for an additional year of eligibility. She completed her undergraduate studies in December, is now pursuing graduate studies, and was named a 2004 Academic All-American.

"Jamie is intense, fearless, and determined. She sets goals and sets them high," Valvano said. "These words also described my brother, Jim. We're extremely honored for Jamie to receive this award that represents all of the qualities that Jim possessed and embodies his 'Never Give Up' spirit."

Said Carey: "To receive this award is a great honor and very humbling. The award is presented in honor and in the name of an amazing individual who persevered and whose messages on living life to its fullest are so important. Over the last few years I've really learned the importance of family, of being passionate, of giving every day your best.

"I also want to especially thank The University of Texas, our basketball coaching staff and my teammates. This Comeback Award is also a tribute to them. The University of Texas took a chance on me and allowed me to once again play the game I love. It's true that the whole is stronger than its parts, and without others around me to support me and help me, I wouldn't have the successes which have come my way."

Nick Valvano will present the 2004 V Foundation Comeback Award trophy to Carey at the 30th Annual University of Texas Women's Student-Athlete Awards Presentation banquet in Austin on April 27th.

Past V Foundation Comeback Award recipients are Arizona State's Justin Allen (2003), Western Michigan's Kristin Koetsier (2002) and Purdue's Katie Douglas (2001).

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