The stars at night are big and bright...

The stars at night are big and bright...
The stars at night are big and bright...

Thursday, March 21, 2013

On The Radar: ESPN's 30 for 30 "Survive and Advance"

Laugh. Think. Cry.

I was never a huge college basketball fan, but I knew who Jimmy V was. He was pure. His infectious animated and articulated enthusiasm made Dick Vitale look like Droopy. He loved basketball, he loved his players and he loved the limelight. He loved life. His greatest gift was to make you realize how precious and fleeting a gift life really is.

ESPN has a fabulous pedigree with their 30 for 30 series, but they really raised the bar with their latest installment about the legendary NC State head coach Jim Valvano who led a squad of freshmen over national powerhouses like UNLV, Kentucky and eventually the famed University of Houston's Phi Slama Jama to win the NCAA National Championship in 1983. Jimmy said "My Mother who loves her 2nd son like no other took Houston and gave 8 points!"

Jimmy V's story is like a Greek tragedy. He guided a group of underdog underclassmen to the NCAA National Championship, becomes besieged with scandal and forced to resign, then is diagnosed with terminal bone cancer 2 years later. He was begrudgingly convinced to attend the fledgling ESPY awards ceremony by Dick Vitale and after being assisted to the stage by his old friend, Jimmy V gave one of the most moving speeches in history completely ad-lib. He waved off the telepromter warnings with "And that screen is flashing up there, 30 seconds, like I care about that screen right now, huh? I've got tumors all over my body and I'm worried about some guy in the back going, '30 seconds.'"

He announced the V Foundation which has to date awarded more than $100 to cancer research and died 2 weeks later.

Survive and Advance is more than an inspirational sports story. It's an inspirational life lesson. Even if you're not a college hoops fan, you'll be a fan of Jimmy V. You should strive to be like Jimmy V.

Survive and Advance is currently airing on the ESPN family of networks. Recommended viewing for the whole family.

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