Jimmy Valvano Gave His Famous ESPY Speech On This Day 25 Years Ago

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David Hookstead Smoke Room Editor-in-Chief
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Today is the 25 year anniversary of Jimmy Valvano’s famous acceptance speech from the 1993 ESPY Awards.

Valvano was accepting the Arthur Ashe courage award, and we all know what happened. He went on to give one of the most important speeches in our lifetimes.

The most important part of the speech in my opinion is below:

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.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen this speech. It was even taught in a couple of my college classes. Valvano was dying of cancer, but didn’t waver for a second in the speech.

He looked the audience in the eyes and told them what they needed to hear. He inspired a country, despite the fact that he would never live long enough to see just how impactful this speech was for people. His lines about living a full day are incredible, especially when you consider the situation. Imagine being on the verge of death and still talking about laughing, joy, thinking and crying. There aren’t many people on this planet who would probably be that upbeat.

Valvano was an outstanding college basketball coach, but his real legacy is now this famous speech. I think he’d be very happy to know his legacy off the court dwarfs the one he left on it.

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