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Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Updated: November 28, 8:44 PM ET
Jim Valvano's legacy lives on

By Dick Vitale
ESPN.com

I cannot believe that Jim Valvano has been gone so long, but his legacy lives on through the fight against cancer. We must beat this disease which affects so many lives. His life ended so prematurely as a victim of cancer.

Jimmy Valvano and I shared a passion for life. We both had such love for our families and had such a great time working together in the ESPN studio. I remember the laughs we had doing work during the NCAA tournament.

Some will look at Jimmy V's legacy through basketball; his NC State Wolfpack cut down the nets in Albuquerque in 1983, becoming national champions in one of the greatest upsets ever. I believe his legacy lives on in this valiant battle against cancer.

I remember vividly attending the ESPYS when Jimmy gave his amazing speech in 1993, when he said, "Don't give up, don't ever give up." He was in so much pain that night, needing help to go up on stage and come back down. Yet he was so amazing that evening, and people will always remember his passion and emotion in such a difficult situation.

People to this day still talk about that speech and his courage in giving it.

I am so proud that The V Foundation for Cancer Research has raised millions and millions of dollars in this war. It gives researchers a chance to find ways to beat this thing. Great people like Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, John Saunders, Bob Lloyd and Jimmy's brother Nick Valvano have been so diligent in working to raise funds for this cause over the years.

People often ask me why I am so driven in the fight against cancer. I have five grandchildren and I cannot imagine how I would feel if they were ill.

I have seen the way cancer affects the people who are close to the cancer patients as well as those suffering from the disease. I have been working for The V Foundation trying to raise money for cancer research to get rid of this horrible disease. It affects so many people, whether you are rich or poor, black or white, whatever religion you believe in; it strikes different people of all persuasions. Cancer doesn't judge you, it simply wreaks havoc on the families and friends of those victimized.

Recently, the ESPN family lost a great person. Tim Scanlan's wife, Holly, succumbed after a brave fight. It is so emotional when you hear about someone else passing away from cancer. We  must wipe it out, and we have done a lot already. Sadly, there is more to be done.

I had such a blast with Jimmy over the years. We talked about basketball, life, our families. His loss had a profound influence on my life. That is why Jimmy V Week and the efforts from ESPN stand out.

I know Jimmy V will be looking down and smiling next week as NC State battles UConn and Texas takes on Georgetown at Madison Square Garden in the Jimmy V Classic.

I work all year round to raise money through my Dickie V gala, with the goal of donating $1 million to The V Foundation for research grants. My event is in Sarasota, Fla., at the Ritz-Carlton in May. I am so proud of it because so many people work so hard on making it a success. This year we are honoring cancer survivors Jim Calhoun and Bobby Bowden, along with Bill Self. These three amazing coaches are giving their time for the fight against cancer. What always makes me proud is the fact that all the celebrities in attendance come down on their own dime. They are not paid a cent and they are happy to be part of the evening.

It is so emotional as we bring in families who have been affected by cancer. There is not a dry eye in the house as they hear stories of people who have beaten the disease and are enjoying their lives. There are reflections on their fight and how they are big winners in the game of life.

Jimmy V's legacy lives on in such a positive way. I know he is looking down from heaven, so proud of what has been done in his name. I know that he would be so proud of the Jimmy V Classic, caring so much about the roundball, baby!

We all miss you, love you and will always remember you, Jimmy!

This is the time of year when people help each other out. If you want to help beat this dreaded disease, call 1-800-4-JIMMYV. The life you help save could be that of a loved one.