Jim Valvano at the ESPYS podium


A Lasting Legacy

“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.”

At the ESPYS Awards in 1993, Jim delivered a speech for the ages while accepting the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage. It was there he announced the formation of the V Foundation for Cancer Research with founding partner ESPN.

Watch Jim’s unforgettable speech »

1967 Rutgers men's basketball team


“Mr. Defense”

From 1964-1967, Jim played point guard for Rutgers University and was known as “Mr. Defense”. During his senior year, Jim co-captained and helped lead the team to a third-place finish in the exclusive 1967 National Invitation Tournament. In the same season, Jim was named Senior Athlete of the Year.

Jim’s coaching career began at Johns Hopkins before moving on to Bucknell, Iona and North Carolina State University. He was inducted into the Rutgers Athletics Hall of Fame in 1993.

Jim Valvano celebrating after their championship win


Wolfpack Wins!

Jim was the men’s basketball head coach at NC State University from 1980–1990. He led the Wolfpack in one of the greatest Cinderella stories in college basketball history: winning the 1983 NCAA Championship. The image of the exuberant Jim running around the court (looking for someone to hug) after the win remains one of the most enduring images of any NCAA tournament. In 2023, the ’83 Wolfpack team celebrated their 40th anniversary of their victory.

Jim was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame as part of the 2023 class with festivities held in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Jim Valvano and Dick Vitale at the broadcast desk


Calling the Game

After his coaching career, Jim became a broadcaster for ESPN and ABC Sports, serving as a commentator and analyst for men’s NCAA basketball. The exuberant play calling with close friend Dick Vitale led them to be nicknamed the “Killer Vees”. Jim’s enthusiasm, wit and energy made him popular on and off screens.

During his 1993 ESPYS speech, Jim announced the formation of the V Foundation for Cancer Research with ESPN as a founding partner. Each year, ESPN hosts V Week and the Jimmy V Classic for both men’s and women’s college basketball.


Husband, Father, Fighter

Jim married his high school sweetheart, Pam, and had three daughters, Nicole, Jamie and Lee Ann. Read a letter from Pam Valvano Strasser »

During his ESPYS speech, Jim said, “We are starting the V Foundation for Cancer Research. It may not save my life. It may save my children’s lives. It may save someone you love.”

In 2023, Jamie became an 18 year survivor of breast cancer. “I am alive today because of cancer research. A day does not go by that I don’t thank my Dad for having the dream to establish the V Foundation.” Read Jamie Valvano’s story »

1993 ESPYS Speech
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