Editor’s notice: In October 2021, ESPN school basketball broadcaster Dick Vitale announced he was identified with lymphoma. He confronted six months of chemotherapy, however he continued to be a presence within the sport he beloved. In April 2022, Vitale rang the bell. He was cancer-free. On the 2022 ESPYS, 29 years after serving to his good friend Jim Valvano to the ESPYS stage, Vitale was honored with the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance.
This speech has been calmly edited.
Tonight I’ve been in awe. Awe. … I’m in awe once I noticed Albert Pujols, or Gretchen [Evans], or Vitali [Klitschko]. And when you’re not in awe, one thing’s incorrect. I’m in awe of the entire athletes which might be right here at present and the greatness that you just possess. The greatness is unbelievable. You ought to be so proud.
I feel there may be one little components that I imagine in a lot rising up as a child. I used to be sitting there and I used to be interested by it and it actually displays what’s within the room and it displays what you might be about. Ardour. What number of instances did we hear the phrase ardour at present? You could not be a star, Aaron [Donald], with out ardour. Cooper [Kupp], proper down the road, Megan [Rapinoe]. All of you nice giants which might be right here, Draymond [Green], the good Warriors workforce. If you did not have a ardour, you’re taking that zeal plus satisfaction. I usually have stated satisfaction in an individual is the flexibility to persevere and to respect the entire competitors and concern none. An eye fixed for intelligence. The flexibility to make clever choices. The e-book intelligence, I am not speaking. I’m speaking clever choices away from the sector and competitors. Making clever choices in your private life. I take into consideration satisfaction.
I take into consideration the 4 D’s: need, dedication, dedication, self-discipline of physique and thoughts. The flexibility to have the drive, and the will, on the essential second when you need to carry out such as you did. Cooper, to interrupt my coronary heart because the season-ticket holder of the Tampa Bay Bucs, you, Mr. Donald, what you probably did to my man, [Tom] Brady. I cried my eyes out leaving that stadium. I could not imagine it the way in which they got here again. And I stated, “Right here we go, child. Uncle Mo is on Tom Brady’s facet.” Which means we’re successful this, child. Abruptly you go for like 60 yards, landing and we’re brokenhearted. However you see, you’re a dedicated particular person with satisfaction. Delight, what I name enthusiasm, pleasure and vitality. The three D’s of life. You’ve got that, you’re going to win.
Again on March four, 1993, I stood right here and I launched, at Madison Sq. Backyard, on the very first ESPYs, my buddy Jimmy V. Should you solely had heard Jimmy V the night time earlier than you’ll by no means, ever imagine or dreamed he might stand there and provides his speech. That is why I stood to the facet, as Jon Hamm stated, I stood there as a result of I believed he would merely say “thanks” and sit down. I known as him up the night time earlier than on the rehearsal, I stated, “Jimmy, Jimmy, you possibly can’t imagine what you’re going to do tomorrow night time. It’ll be unbelievable, higher than I ever thought.”
You could possibly barely hear his phrases. “Dick, Dick, you assume I give a s— about an award? I’m not going to see Lee Ann, Jamie, Nicole — my daughters graduate. I’m not going to have the ability to see them strolling down the aisle. It is over, man.” I’m making an attempt to choose his spirits up.
“Jimmy, you gotta come man.” I’m like, “You need to come. You need to come.”
We got here on a aircraft the following day with Mike Krzyzewski, his spouse, Jimmy’s spouse, Pam. Mike tells me the following day as they arrive in New York. He stated he’s throwing up in every single place, sick as a canine. So now we’re within the enviornment and he’s sitting proper up entrance. And I attempted to seize one of many manufacturing assistants and say why do not you convey a mic to him. He can sense one thing is occurring. So he stated, “come over right here man.” So I come over and he stated, “What are you doing?” I stated I’m going to make it straightforward for you.
And Jimmy had some alternative phrases. He advised Mike and I simply get me on the effing stage. Get me on that stage. We received him on that stage. I used to be mesmerized, blown away as he electrified the nation, and that speech, “Do not hand over … do not ever hand over,” has created why we’re right here at present.
We have now raised $300 million in his identify. Take into consideration that — $300 million! Take into consideration that. Take into consideration his legacy. His legacy is a real legacy. Oh he reduce the nets down. And coaches dream of that, he received the nationwide championship.
I stated there are three main components which have made the V Basis bounce like they’ve and turn out to be such an unbelievable, unbelievable first-class basis as a result of each greenback that’s donated goes to analysis as a result of, as a member of the board I can inform you this, we’ve, are you prepared for this, a 40-million-dollar, 40-million-dollar endowment that the entire administrative prices are paid for. So each greenback, once I exit and beg, I’m not going to beg and plead your cash goes to pay this or pay that one. All of it goes the place it ought to go, to assist folks battling that dreaded illness.
So Jimmy, to me, the very first thing that gave him the recognition is successful the nationwide championship. Beating an awesome workforce. An excellent workforce … Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler, Houston. No one gave North Carolina State a shot. However you possibly can discuss to Jimmy and his guys. There they’re. Derek [Whittenberg], who does an awesome job with us on the board, had the “Survive and Advance” documentary. That’s terrific. And there he’s, unbelievable. And the job that he did was implausible. And he threw most likely the best air ball, the best air ball within the historical past of basketball. And that air ball was caught by Lorenzo Charles who dunked that sucker they usually received the nationwide title. And Jimmy ran across the court docket searching for any person to hug, trying to give some love and get some love. Nicely that second gave him reputation on the nationwide scene.
Then you definately mix that along with his nice speech. “Do not hand over … do not ever hand over.” And people two components have been main. There was a 3rd issue that elevated the V Basis. Jimmy’s household, his spouse, Pam, his daughters all received concerned. His brothers, Bobby and Nick, turned the pinnacle of the V Basis. For some time there he did an awesome, nice job.
They’re telling me to wrap it up. You realize what, man? I’m going to do what my man Jimmy V did. You realize what Jimmy V advised once they stated wrap it up? Giving that speech? He stated “Va Fa a Napoli,” all people. Are you kidding me? My man Jimmy. I want a couple of extra minutes. I received the boss over there, he’s on my facet, (ESPN president) Jimmy Pitaro, anyway, so I am OK.
However anyway, the underside line is the V Basis began to maneuver huge time. Large time. Making $300 million. What a legacy. What a legacy. A legacy which you can have an unbelievable impact on so many individuals battling most cancers. And that’s what Jimmy has performed. Save lives. He’ll go on technology after technology and that could be a nice legacy to have.
I sit right here and I inform you, clearly my case, it has been a troublesome eight months. It has been a journey that has been robust. With out my lovely household and my spouse — arise, Lorraine. My spouse Lorraine was the best recruit that I ever recruited. Man, she shot me down thrice asking her to bounce. It is best to have seen her. She is handsome now. Fifty-one years in the past, man, when she walked within the room, the eyes simply went like that. They nonetheless do Lorraine, do not get me incorrect. She is a Corridor of Famer. I am in like 15 Corridor of Fames. I am unable to run. I am unable to bounce. I am unable to shoot. I received a physique by linguini. However I’m in 15 Corridor of Fames. My spouse is actually the Corridor of Famer in my household.
I would like my complete household to face up. My 5 grandchildren, my daughters, my grandsons. They play tennis. They play tennis at Duke College. My granddaughter, Sydney, she performs tennis at Notre Dame. And her brother is a lacrosse participant at Notre Dame after which I received the fifth one who’s a highschool junior in Ava. … However I overheard a dialog at some point with them. And so they have been bragging about their three.8s and three.9s. And I heard that and I stated “Hey that is ridiculous. I used to be higher than you guys.” I had a four.zero. And so they stated to my spouse, they name her Lo, they usually stated, “Lo, no approach Papa had a four.zero.” I stated you might be calling me a liar. I had a four.zero. 1.zero as a freshman. 1.zero as a sophomore, I had a four.zero.
I need to thank them, caregivers. As a caregiver, they have been unbelievable for me. They took care of me such as you could not imagine. I need to thank, definitely, unbelievable, the unbelievable love that I received from ESPN, my second household. Unbelievable. I consider Jimmy Pitaro, our boss. Treats me like royalty. Simply lovely, because the earlier bosses have been nice as nicely. I take into consideration all of my colleagues on and off the air have been so nice sending messages. And when you, if you realize somebody that is battling most cancers, prolong a message. Lengthen a prayer. So many instances I laid within the hospital, and it was these messages that picked me up on the darkest second. It gave me such a carry to say, you realize, I’m going to beat this, man. I hear Jimmy’s phrases in my head. Do not hand over, man. Do not hand over. I heard my mother. My mom and father have been uneducated. Fifth-grade training. Had a doctorate of affection. … I misplaced my eye as a child as you noticed within the video, my mom would say, “I do not need no excuses. Richie, you may be what you need to be. You may be what you need to be.”
“Do not guess towards me.”
— ESPN (@espn) July 21, 2022
And I actually cannot thank from the underside of my coronary heart all of the folks at ESPN. I thank my medical workforce. My medical workforce — Dr. Brown, the entire folks on the hospital on the Jellison Oncology Heart. They have been implausible. Incredible. They handled me tremendously. So particular. Dr. Kucera. Dr. Meredith. After which I had my vocal twine issues and I see him sitting there, Dr. Steven Zeitels. Rise up, Steven. Steven, to me he’s the Stephen Curry, he’s the Stephen Curry of the vocal cords. And, when you do not imagine me, name up Lionel Richie, name up Adele, name up James Taylor, name up Steven Tyler. I imply, it goes on and on. He even took care of the best perhaps ever of all time. One of many well-known folks of all time when he was dwelling, Muhammad [Ali], the champ. He operated on him as nicely. So I thanks, Steven. Thanks. As a result of, folks I’ve to inform you this, 72 hours in the past I used to be in his workplace, in Boston. I had not spoken for, nicely, it was a month. He did surgical procedure on me the primary time on my vocal cords again in, oh god, that was again on Feb. 15. Then he did surgical procedure once more on June 15. Unbelievable. That’s solely a month in the past. I took six to eight weeks to heal. And he advised me in his workplace and he known as the president up as nicely. He stated, “I’m going to clear him to talk on the ESPYs. So long as he follows my directions. He wants a couple of extra weeks but of a therapeutic course of.” I’ve what’s known as precancerous dysplasia throughout my vocal cords. I like you, buddy, and I thanks a lot for making this occur for me at present.
And so they maintain flashing wrap up. And I’m going to wrap up in about three minutes. The underside line is, the underside line is, I need to thank the faculty basketball panorama, coaches. Oh, my god. Jay Wright, John Calipari. I might go on and on. Mike Brey, Tom Izzo. All these coaches. Rick Pitino, always messages repeatedly. Rick Barnes at Tennessee would ship me a prayer. A prayer day-after-day. For 4 months straight, I might get a prayer. A private, private prayer from him. Blew my spouse and I away.
That love. That love. That caring. It has me standing right here at present. My spouse as nicely, with out her help and with out her caregiving, I would not be right here at present. I actually imagine that. However you realize what, I’m right here.
My final thought may be very easy. I need to thank the V Basis. Nice job to be on that board. Russell [Wilson], you’re going to like it and so is Ciara. You’ll like it. They’re nice, nice folks. And having you on the board is particular. It’ll be particular.
Backside line is, they’re those that care. They need to assist others. And proper now, my dedication to the those that know me, are youngsters. No child or youngster ought to be doing chemo and radiation. I’ve devoted myself to the purpose, as they stated, we raised $55 million. It isn’t sufficient.
In case you are ready and in case you are financially ready, please I urge you. Solely 4 cents out of each greenback in funding goes for pediatrics and that is a criminal offense. I can identify youngsters right here to you. I can identify a Payton Wright. She misplaced her life. I watched her turn out to be blind. I watched her turn out to be blind and paralyzed and in the end die. I went to the funeral. It tore my coronary heart out watching the mother and the dad put their lovely little lady to relaxation. I used to be considering of Tony Colton. Tony had a spirit such as you could not imagine. Tony, Tony handed away. I used to be at his bedside on the hospital when he was terminally unwell, seeing the tubes all in him. A great-looking child, 16 years previous on the time. It simply broke my coronary heart. And he known as me to his mattress, and he whispered, and I might barely hear him, and he stated “Mr. V, Mr. V, please assist these youngsters. Do not allow them to undergo like me.” I stated, “Tony, till my final breath I’ll beg and plead for dollars.”
“We aren’t go to cease, cease chasing the dream of elevating dollars and your dream, Jimmy’s dream was to beat most cancers. And we should do it.”
So, folks on the market, go to V.org and make a donation. I consider the entire lovely youngsters’ names … I consider Mikari Tarpley, Hodgkin’s illness. Coleton Korney, they imply nothing to you. However to me they do. They arrive to my gala yearly because the Dick Vitale All Brave Workforce. Braveness such as you can not imagine.
So I shut with this to you. I shut. I’ve a message. Jimmy, my man up there. I do know in spirit you might be up there with Stuart Scott, John Saunders — I like these guys. All gone so early. I do know you are internet hosting a hoops celebration. John Thompson, you bought Rollie Massimino, and all you gathering, watching what we’re doing or interested by us. I’ll inform you this Jimmy V, my man. We aren’t go to cease, cease chasing the dream of elevating dollars and your dream, Jimmy’s dream was to beat most cancers. And we should do it. As a result of it would not discriminate. It comes in spite of everything.
The truth is, I would like all people within the room that is aware of any person they love, is aware of any person of their household or perhaps themselves that has battled most cancers to please stand.
Check out the room. It would not matter — race, faith. It would convey you to your knees. There is just one technique to beat it, my buddies. We have now to lift dollars and provides the oncologists a combating probability.
I shut by merely saying, “Preserve chasing your goals. Preserve chasing your objectives.” And to me, all of you on this room are particular winners within the sport of life and what you will have performed to pursue your objectives. And bear in mind, simply bear in mind, perseverance plus ardour plus satisfaction equals win within the sport of life. God bless. Thanks.
ESPN and the V Basis are dedicated to the struggle towards most cancers. In case you are ready, please help most cancers analysis by visiting V.org/donate.