The Most Important Takeaway From Jimmy V’s 1993 ESPY Award Speech That We Forget

Jim Valvano at the 1993 ESPY awards

I’ve been an avid college basketball fan ever since I was a young child and I vividly remember one of the most powerful coaches on the court, Jimmy Valvano. His passion for the game was something that could never be missed during games I’d watch on television.

He’s one of the reasons I loved playing basketball as a child. Like many others, I had the hopes and dreams of playing at the sport at a college level. You’d watch him on the bench running his team and it was something you wanted to be a part of.

In a sad, yet inspiring twist of fate, he’s now gone, passing away tragically in 1993 from a battle with cancer. He will certainly never be forgotten. As a result of his legendary 1993 ESPY Awards address in combination with his legacy, I wanted to share my personal feelings on what exactly he leaves behind for us.

That video gets me every single time. I watch it over and over again. And there’s good reason for it.

If you haven’t watched it before, stop reading this article and watch it. If you have watched it, you know that Jimmy Valvano leaves behind three key requests for all of us.

“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 special.”

If those three things – laughing, thinking, and crying – is done every day, mindfully and meaningfully, in both your personal and professional lives, it is a full day. A day that is truly lived.

The Most Important Takeaway

Aside from those three key requests Valvano mentioned, there’s another part in particular that hits me even more.

About halfway through the speech, he talks about his family support. He looks up and sees a monitor giving him the normal countdown of how much time he has left to finish his speech.

He responds with, “That screen is flashing up there 30 seconds like I care about that screen right now, huh? I got tumors all over my body. I’m worried about some guy in the back going “30 seconds”? You got a lot, hey va fa Napoli, buddy. You got a lot.”

Time.

It is an important part of our busy lives that we too often forget about. Whether it’s flying through life because of our busy work schedules, or neglecting your todays because you think you’re guaranteed an infinite amount of tomorrows, we take time for granted.

And every time I watch that video and those few seconds come up, I always pause it to think about my life: personally and professionally.

I always worried I’m so busy that I’m missing out on the beauty of what’s around.

We know two important pieces to the puzzle of life: time isn’t always on your side and life itself is very precious. Those are two important lessons right there that Jimmy V leaves behind as a part of his incredible legacy.

To that end, I use this week every year to reminisce on what a legacy Jimmy V. leaves behind and what he really wants everyone to remember about life, including you.

To me personally, it’s about making sure to enjoy life to the fullest as we navigate through its hardships and challenges. It’s a truth that can translate easily in our lives professionally and personally. I make sure that people I associate with feel a sense of passion and pride while working together. You should too.

Jimmy V. says best, “Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.

Featured photo credit: ESPN via espnmediazone.com

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