Jim Valvano: A Life of Inspiration

Jim Valvano giving his 1993 ESPY Speech

Jim Valvano at the 1993 ESPY Awards

I caught an episode of 30/30 that reviewed the 30th reunion of the 1983 N.C. State NCAA Championship. As I watched the show, it became clear that it also was a tribute to their coach, Jim Valvano.  The man had a gift to motivate and squeeze every bit of guts and determination from his players.  They all loved him.

It followed the team throughout the ACC championship and the March Madness of 1983.  His team came from behind multiple times and beat opponents that no one would have expected.  When they won it all, Sports Illustrated claimed it as the greatest college basketball moment of the 20th century.

As I watched, I was amazed at the man’s charisma and his gift of speech.  At the age of sixteen at a basketball camp, Valvano heard a speech from the Reverend Bob Richards, a pole vault Olympic golf medalist.  Richards looked over the group of kids and said, “The Lord must have loved ordinary people because he made so many of us.”  Valvano said he was sitting there thinking he was special and these words momentarily crushed him.  Then Richards gave the line that Valvano said had changed his life: “In every single day, in every walk of life, ordinary people do extraordinary things.  Ordinary People accomplish Extraordinary things.”

The following are some quotes from Jim Valvano to take with you into your daily life:

“There are three things we should do everyday.  Do this every day of our life.  Number one is laugh.  Number two, you should think.  You should spend some time in thought.  And number three, you should have your emotions moved to tears: could be happiness or joy.  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.”

“My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me.”

“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.”

Jim Valvano fought hard in his battle to beat cancer. He lived a beautiful life and many wondered why such a life had to end. The Jimmy V Foundation he started has raised upwards of 100 million dollars for cancer research.  Through his death, the impact he made on those around him, and his foundation, he has extended and saved the lives of many others.

Here’s to Jim Valvano: An ordinary guy, who did extraordinary things with his life.  He inspires us all to do the same.

Click Here to view his ESPY Speech