Stuart Scott channels Jimmy Valvano at ESPYs ceremony

Being presented an award at the 2014 ESPYs by Kiefer freakin’ Sutherland is a tough act to follow, but ESPN broadcaster Stuart Scott delivered the goods with a speech that harked back to Jimmy Valvano´s legendary address at the original Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly Award show. Scott was appropriately being honored with the Jimmy V Perseverance award for his ongoing, inspirational battle with cancer. Valvano himself was fighting bone cancer when he accepted the Arthur Ashe Courage and Humanitarian Award and gave the speech that has influenced generations of sportsmen, sportscasters, and sports fans.

Stuart Scott’s career and life has been filled with ups and downs from the day he was born. His birthday is July 19, which means his astrological sign is cancer. Obviously that’s just a coincidence, but which proved to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Additionally, his filmography consists of a series of clunkers excepting Spike Lee’s He Got Game. But that’s irrelevant because he’s not a professional actor. He is a sportscaster and also a father of two, and he has been very successful at both those endeavors. He has interviewed Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama when the current president was still a senator. He has also been successful at dealing with cancer. His condition has been in remission and has relapsed as well; he’s been through chemo and now will undergo a new, experimental clinical trial. His public struggle with cancer has inspired many others and has accorded him a well deserved Jimmy V award.

The first thing you’ll notice about Scott’s speech is that he was given enough time to speak his mind. Even that little detail he owes to Jimmy V ignoring a teleprompter telling him that he had only 30 seconds left -though sadly and in reality he only had less than two months left. However, Scott recognized that what he truly is indebted to Valvano for is those seven words that became the motto of The V Foundation for Cancer Research: “don’t give up, don’t ever give up.” Valvano never gave up, nor did other recipients of the Jimmy V award such as Kay Yow or Don Meyer who also succumbed to cancer.

As Scott rightly pointed out, dying to cancer is not losing the battle; the battle is not won in how long you live but how you live your time on this earth. Like The Ultimate Warrior said, in another rousing speech delivered soon before passing away, “Every man's heart one day beats its final beat. His lungs breathe their final breath. And if what that man did in his life makes the blood pulse through the body of others and makes them believe deeper in something larger than life then his essence, his spirit, will be immortalized.”  

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