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A Look Back: Our ESPYS Favorites

Every year, the ESPYS show us how the best athletes in sports make a difference in their communities and across the globe. They celebrate perseverance, courage and service, leading to unforgettable moments each year that tug at our heart strings and inspire us to be better.

Jim Valvano’s speech in 1993 taught us what it takes to make yours a “Heck of a Day” and provided the V Foundation for Cancer Research with our rallying cry: “Don’t Give Up . . . Don’t Ever Give Up!”® Every year, each speech at the ESPYS is moving and motivating. As we get set for this year’s ESPYS on June 21 at 9 p.m. EST on ESPN, we thought we’d take a look back at some of our favorites over the years.

 

Robin Roberts

In 2013, Robin received the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage. She made us laugh; she made us think; and she made us cry. In Jim Valvano’s speech 20 years earlier, he asked for help funding cancer research because, “It may not save his life. It may save someone you love.” Robin was one of those lives saved by research. And she left us with this empowering message: “True strength isn’t when you face down life’s challenges on your own. It’s when you take them on by accepting the help, faith and love of others.”

 

Stuart Scott

In his unforgettable speech at the 2014 ESPYS, Stuart Scott put a tear in our eyes by calling his youngest daughter, Sydni, on stage because he needed a hug. He also left us with a specific calculation of how you beat cancer when he said, “When you die, that does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live and the manner in which you live.”

 

Craig Sager

Craig Sager was legendary for his eccentric outfits and his lovable personality. He showcased both at the 2016 ESPYS, while reminding us how precious time is: “See each day as a blessing. Time is something that cannot be bought. It cannot be wagered with God, and it is not in endless supply. Time is simply how you live your life.”

 

Jim Kelly

At the 2018 ESPYS, Hall of Famer Jim Kelly reflected on his own cancer diagnosis as well as the loss of his son Hunter. His moving speech taught us to “make a difference today for someone who is fighting for their tomorrow.”