Jim Valvano's famous ESPYs speech was 20 years ago today. Valvano had bone cancer and it was unclear if he would even have the energy to appear at the ESPYs. This is what former ESPN executive John Lack said about it in Those Guys Have All The Fun:
We flew up up to New York—he was living in North Carolina at the time—and he calls me from the hotel. He says, "I can't make it on the air. I'm too sick. I'm throwing up." I said, "I'll come and get you." He said, No. Johnny, I can't do it. You've got to fill in for me." I said, "Jimmy, I ain't filling in for you, baby. I'm coming to get you." When I got to the room, he was still saying he couldn't do it, but I just wouldn't listen. He said he couldn't even tie his tie, so I tied it. Then I told him we were going. We wound up carrying him into the cab. When we got to Radio City, he saw the crowd and he began to gain his strength.
The speech was supposed to be about three minutes. It lasted more than 10 minutes. Halfway through it, Valvano said: "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.'" Valvano died less than two months later.