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One of the most beloved and colorful sports personalities of our time was a man named Jim Valvano, "Jimmy V" as he was known affectionately to sports fans around the country. Jim Valvano tragically died just a few years ago after a year-long battle with cancer. He was just 47 years old. He will be remembered as a great basketball coach. His North Carolina State team won the national championship in 1983. Jim Valvano will also be remembered as an outstanding TV analyst, an eloquent inspirational speaker, and as a lovable, wisecracking humorist. But, most of all, he’ll be remembered for the courageous way he faced a debilitating illness.

A few weeks before he died, he was honored on national television and to that vast viewing audience, he said this: "Today, I fight a different battle. You see, I have trouble walking and I have trouble standing for a long period of time. Cancer has taken away a lot of my physical abilities. Cancer is attacking and destroying my body, but what cancer cannot touch is my mind, my heart, and my soul. I have faith in God and hope that things might get better for me. But even if they don’t, I promise you this: I will never, ever give up. I will never, ever quit. And if cancer gets me, then I’ll just try my best to go to heaven and I’ll try my best to be the best coach they’ve ever seen up there." Then, pointing to his 1983 championship team, he said, "I learned a great lesson from these guys. They amazed me. They did things I was not sure they could do because they absolutely refused to give up. That was the theme of our championship season: ’Never, ever give up!’ That’s the lesson I learned from them, and that’s the message I leave with you. Never give up. Never, ever give up!"

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