Don’t give up, don’t ever give up

March 4 — OTD in GenX history, we learned to “Take time every day to laugh, to think, to cry.” And that sometimes arbitrary time limits are meaningless.

Jim Valvano became a household name in the sports world the day his North Carolina State Wolfpack knocked off the mighty Houston Cougars to win the 1983 NCAA basketball championship. Always an energetic presence anyway, he famously ran around the court looking for people to hug.

He’d been coaching, as a head or assistant, since his own graduation from Rutgers in 1967, and had been the head man at NC State since 1980. He would compile a record of 209–114 at NC State and 346–210 overall, but it ended with more of a smudge than he would’ve liked. After an investigation found some questionable practices under his watch, including wretched classroom performance by many of his players, he was forced to resign in 1990.

Just two years later, in December 1992, Valvano — by then a noted broadcaster — was diagnosed with adenocarcinoma, a form of glandular cancer. It was terminal. But this final chapter of Valvano’s life was not without an uplifting vision.

On March 4, 1993, Valvano gave a speech at the inaugural ESPY Awards at Madison Square Garden. He was accepting the Arthur Ashe Courage and Humanitarian Award. Because most observers knew of Valvano’s diagnosis, if not his prognosis, the address carried a certain magical air.

To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. And number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special.

He announced the creation of The V Foundation for Cancer Research, and in imploring us to make the most of every moment we have, he demanded only one thing of us:

Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.

And in conclusion, he left us with what we remember as his final public words:

Cancer can take away all of my physical abilities. It cannot touch my mind, it cannot touch my heart, and it cannot touch my soul. And those three things are going to carry on forever. I thank you and God bless you all.

He succumbed to cancer on April 28, 1993, at age 47.

Generation X is forgotten no more! Here’s tosome of the people and moments that shaped our youth in the ’90s, ’80s, and even some ’70s.