Jim Kelly embracing his public battle

July, 16, 2014
Jul 16
11:00
AM ET
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Jim Valvano's historic speech at the 1993 ESPYS has been played countless times over the past two decades. It takes center stage again Wednesday as ESPN holds ESPY Day Benefiting the V Foundation.

Jimmy V's words -- "Don't give up, don't ever give up" -- have a special meaning this year for Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly, who continues to get stronger as he recovers from chemotherapy and radiation treatments this spring.

Kelly held his annual football camp last week and joined ESPN Radio's "Mike & Mike" on Wednesday to update his health and thank his supporters.

"The overwhelming response I've gotten from people telling me what they've been through, and some of the things that I not so much have to look forward to, but have to prepare myself for, has helped me get through this," Kelly said.

Since Kelly was diagnosed with a recurrence of sinus cancer in March, his family and fans have connected on social media to bring awareness to his battle.

"I know you guys talk about 'Kelly tough' and my wife putting things on Twitter, Facebook. And trust me, at the beginning I was not for that," Kelly said. "I'm a very private person. But she said, 'Jim, if there's a way that we can get more people praying for what you're going through,' she said, 'the better off we're all gonna be.' And she said, 'What you can do to help other people -- not just adults but kids, too -- will be just unbelievable.'

"And of course my faith, the faith that I have, made me realize that she was right."

ESPN NFL host Chris Berman sat down with Kelly's daughter, Erin, for a Father's Day "SportsCenter" conversation, an interview that touched the tough-as-nails former Buffalo Bills quarterback.

"I don't know if I've ever cried that hard in my life," Kelly said. "Because every single morning she gets up with a smile on her face. It's not because she wants to, it's because it just comes out in her. It makes me feel so good every morning to see the bright smile on my daughter's face every time she comes out to help Daddy."

Kelly said he has an upcoming check-up on the status of his cancer.

"Nowadays a lot of people beat it. I hope I'm going to be one of those," Kelly said. "I will find out more come next month when I have my MRI to figure out if the chemotherapy and the radiation and all that worked.

"I just keep saying my prayers each and every day and know that it's not in my hands, but in the good Lord's. We'll see what happens, and we'll go from there."

Mike Rodak

ESPN Buffalo Bills reporter

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