On March 3, 1993, Jim Valvano, legendary basketball coach for North Carolina State and ESPN commentator, spoke at the first ESPY Awards ceremony while accepting the inaugural Arthur Ashe Courage and Humanitarian Award. Jim passed away from a yearlong battle with bone cancer nearly two months after his memorable speech but left us with an unforgettable message.
“To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one: laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two: think. You should spend some time in thought. And number three: 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. Cancer can take away all of my physical abilities. It cannot touch my mind, it cannot touch my heart, and it cannot touch my soul. And those three things are going to carry on forever.”
For the past nine years the Jimmy V Award has been presented to a deserving member of the sporting world who has overcome great obstacles through physical perseverance and determination. This past Wednesday evening, Craig Sager, who is fighting his own battle with leukemia, was the Jimmy V honoree. Prior to making his way to the stage, an emotional video tribute was shared. We watched footage of Craig receiving chemotherapy, then driving miles to make it to the sidelines to begin reporting. “If I missed a game, it meant I was losing the battle.” Donning one of his signature flamboyant suits, Craig went on to share the following during his acceptance speech:
“If there’s anything I’ve learned through all of this, it’s that each and every day is a canvas waiting to be painted. An opportunity for fun, for love, for learning. To those out there who are suffering from cancer, facing adversity, I want you to know that your will to live can make all the difference in the world. The way you think influences the way you feel, and the way you feel determines how you act. I always see the glass half full. I see the beauty in others and I see the hope in tomorrow. If we don’t have hope or faith, we have nothing. Time is not something that can be bought, it cannot be wagered with God, and it is not an endless supply. Time is simply how you live your life. I will never give up and I will never give in. I will continue to keep fighting, sucking the marrow out of life, as life sucks the marrow out of me. I will live my life full of love, full of fun. It’s the only way I know how.”
May the courage and fight of Craig Sager, Jim Valvano, and countless others encourage and inspire us to live life fully regardless of the challenges we face.