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I have been truly blessed in my lifetime. I have a wonderful family, great friends, tremendous colleagues at ESPN that have meant so much to me.
That is why Monday night down in North Carolina will be so emotional and so special.
I am being honored with induction into the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Hall of Fame, along with esteemed writer and ESPN contributor Mitch Albom. Mitch is a creative, innovative writing genius.
My friends, I have never looked at myself as a broadcaster as much as I have seen myself as a coach and sports fan lucky enough to have the best seat in the house to call college basketball. I have had passion and emotion in calling those games, and in the final quarter of my life, this is truly an amazing honor.
As I think of the greats already in the Hall, I am simply amazed to even be mentioned with the likes of many of them. I am on cloud nine over this. What a great weekend, celebrating my 74th birthday plus this honor! Wow!
I almost get teary-eyed thinking about how blessed I've been in my life and my career. I had a loving mother and father who said to never believe in the word "can't," and be good to people and they will be good to you. They always provided encouragement and a doctorate of love, and I know that on Monday they will be looking down from heaven, proud of their son, Richie.
So many people have been good to me. I have treasured every minute with my loving wife of 42 years, Lorraine, my guiding light and inspiration. I have two tremendous daughters, Sherri and Terri, and their husbands, Thomas Krug and Chris Sforzo. I have five wonderful grandchildren who have been so special in my life.
I've been lucky to work with a fantastic team at ESPN. They have played such a major role, and you don't climb the ladder of success in life without having people go to bat for you and help along the way.
I think about the executives, the producers, coordinating producers, directors, associate producers, directors, play-by-play people, researchers, graphic operators, public relations, all the people behind the scenes who have been so good to me throughout the years.
I have had so many magical moments because of these beautiful people and to single them out is difficult. However, there are certain people I have to mention. In the research world, thank you to Howie Schwab for all the time and effort he has put in researching the information I have shared with fans over the years.
My broadcasting buddies have meant so much. Dan Shulman has been a great partner over the past decade, especially when I went through a tough time with throat surgery. He kept encouraging and inspiring me. I think about John Saunders, whom I worked with during the Jimmy V era, and it was an incredible time. That was the most fun in my life.
I reflect on the time spent with Bob Ley and Jim Simpson early in my career as they taught me so much about broadcasting. I am still learning. Ley took his time teaching me the ropes and he is a fellow Seton Hall Pirate. Seeing his growth on television has made me so proud.
Simpson gave me great advice that I have used throughout my career. I came out as a jock from the locker room and they told me to talk about the game I loved. That is how I learned about TV.
I think about my bosses, George Bodenheimer, John Skipper, Steve Bornstein, Bill Grimes, Howard Katz, Mark Shapiro, Norby Williamson and now, John Wildhack in studio production.
Also in production, Steve Anderson, Dave Miller, Kim Belton, Mo Davenport, Freddie Gaudelli, Dan Steir, Chip Dean, Jay Rothman, Doug Holmes, Jay Levy, Bob Feller, Phil Dean, Drew Esocoff and Lee Fitting have helped me so much.
In public relations, two guys in particular have meant so much: Mike Soltys and Josh Krulewitz. They have been so good to me, creating so much publicity over the years.
I think about the critics who have said I stray away from the game too much. They have inspired me, too.
Thanks to all of you.
As I reflect back, from the very first game I called in 1979 between Wisconsin and DePaul, up to now, I would not change a thing.
You don't think about a Hall of Fame when you start a career in broadcasting with no experience. Back in 1979, I would never have thought this day would come. I am going in my 12th Hall of Fame, pretty good for a guy who doesn't speak great English, is loud and talks too much. I have a body by rigatoni and now I am going into this Hall.
I remember the day I got the call from Scotty Connal, asking if I would be interested in being a commentator for the new sports network, ESPN. Connal had seen me coaching at Detroit when we faced Michigan in the NCAA tournament, before I went to the Pistons. After I got the ziggy from owner Bill Davidson, Connal called me and said that he remembered me from that Detroit-Michigan game and the way I communicated.
When I got fired by the Pistons, I thought my world was over. Instead, it was just beginning in television.
Well, my first reaction was "ESPN, is that a disease or something?"
Connal called me again and told me that he believed I had a talent. I am glad that I listened to him, because it changed my life.
I cannot thank everyone enough from my second family at the worldwide leader in sports.
To all of the great people who have helped me over the years, thank you, thank you, thank you.
This is so special, so wonderful. None of this would be possible without my support system, and that support has come from all the kids on the college campuses who have allowed me to work a job where I can still be a kid myself. Thank you to all of them. And a special thank you for all the support in my newest mission and passion -- to raise awareness and money to help kids battle cancer through the V Foundation. I will fight against the dreaded disease until I take my last breath on Earth.
Kids should not have to go through chemotherapy, they should be out playing. Names like Tatum, Erin, Olivia, Kyle, Taylor, Jacob, Cameron, Dillion, Ashleigh, Eddie -- these kids have shown such courage and they are my heroes. That is my world now, and I am proud that we have raised more than $10 million over the years through my gala.
As I accept this unbelievable honor on Monday, I will be thinking of each and every one of you. You have meant so much to me and my family.