FINAL FOUR | Remembering Jimmy V, N.C. State | April 4
It's hard to believe that 20 years have gone by since my late buddy, Jimmy Valvano, cut down the nets and won the national championship in Albuquerque, N.M., as head coach at North Carolina State.
After the underdog Wolfpack upset Houston at the buzzer, we witnessed such a special moment as Jimmy V ran around the court, looking to give some love, looking for someone to hug.
|A jubilant Jim Valvano and North Carolina State pulled off the upset over Houston in the 1983 NCAA title game.|
What a memorable moment, as the Wolfpack shocked America with Lorenzo Charles' dunk of a Derrick Whittenburg missed shot. N.C. State beat the heavily-favored Cougars 54-52. Houston's Phi Slamma Jamma team -- with Hakeem (then Akeem) Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler and company -- was special, so it was really an incredible David vs. Goliath Shock City!
To me, Jimmy's legacy is not about winning that national title or about the excellent work he did as an ESPN analyst. Jimmy V was about so much more -- especially the courageous battle he waged against the dreaded disease, cancer.
It's ironic that 20 years later, Syracuse coach Jimmy Boeheim is at the Final Four. Boeheim is a cancer survivor -- he beat prostate cancer because of early detection.
Jimmy V's goal, as he told many of his friends, was to eventually stamp out cancer. He knew that he couldn't get it done before he passed away, but he set it as the goal. He knew he couldn't necessarily beat it individually, but that he could help so many others beat it.
Jimmy V knew that he could start fighting for fund-raising to further cancer research. So the Jimmy V Foundation became a reality, and it has done so much in such a short time. I can't believe it's been 10 years since we lost Jimmy Valvano. We had so many great memories together, including a Final Four down in New Orleans.
The V Foundation has raised more than $25 million already. I know Jimmy V would be proud of that. In fact, I'm sure he's up in heaven, talking to the legendary Al McGuire, who is doing a jig as Marquette is in this year's Final Four. Al told me shortly before his death that Tom Crean was going to be a special coach at Marquette.
Jimmy V waged a courageous battle against the dreaded disease, cancer.
I can just imagine Jimmy V and McGuire going at it big-time!
Yes, Jimmy V would be proud of all the cancer research grants that have been issued, but unfortunately it's nowhere near what is needed to end the dreaded disease. So in memory of Jimmy V, who electrified America 20 years ago with his charismatic personality, please help. We all know someone who has been stricken by cancer.
On behalf of Jimmy V, please call 1-800-4-JIMMY V and make a donation. If you're a Syracuse fan and you're watching Boeheim strut that sideline, be thankful for all the work that has been done to help people go on and live a normal life.
Please call. Do it as soon as possible -- you may be helping someone you love.