Jim Valvano is remembered for being many things: a player, a coach, a broadcaster, a brother, husband and father, a friend and more. But above all he is an inspiration. And when diagnosed with cancer at age 46, he never gave up.
From 1964-1967, Jim played point guard for Rutgers University. During his senior year, Jim helped lead the team to a third-place finish in the exclusive 1967 National Invitation Tournament. Jim was named Senior Athlete of the Year.
Jim is most often remembered for being head coach at NC State University from 1980–1990. He led the Wolfpack in one of the greatest Cinderella stories in college basketball history, culminating as winners of 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.
Broadcaster & Speaker
After coaching, Jim became a broadcaster for ESPN and ABC Sports. 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. He gave hundreds of motivational speeches in his lifetime, and two are especially memorable: February 21, 1993, at NC State's Reynolds Coliseum and March 3, 1993, while accepting the inaugural Arthur Ashe Courage and Humanitarian Award at the first ESPY Awards.
Jim never gave up. Although he lost his own battle with cancer, he wanted to make sure no one had to go through the disease again. He formed the V Foundation to fund cutting-edge research to help finally declare victory over cancer. It's a legacy that has affected, and will continue to affect, millions of people around the world.
"Jimmy formed the V Foundation during the last couple months of his life. We would laugh, joke and cry at the hospital together. One night he said, 'I want to try to fund researchers to attack cancer. I want you to be on my team.' He recruited me during that time. His wisdom and his ability to think beyond his life was incredible."