ItalianAmerican: Jim Valvano

“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.”

“How do you go from where you are, to where you want to be? I think you have to have an enthusiasm for life. You have to have a dream, a goal, and you have to be willing to work for it.”

“My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person…he believed in me.”

In the midst of the basketball frenzy that is March Madness, it’s a great time to reflect on the motivational genius that was Jim Valvano. He was very accomplished as a basketball coach, helping his team pull off one of the greatest upsets in college hoops history.

Two of the above quotes come from another pivotal  moment in his life:  His acceptance speech of the Arthur Ashe Courage and Humanitarian Award. It was an emotional speech that he gave to a riveted audience, even though he knew he was dying of cancer.

To be inspired by this monumental speech, see the entire transcript here.

It is remarkable that a man in his position, with the diagnosis that was given him, still maintained a positive attitude towards his career, sport, and life in general. Knowing about and listening to the Jim Valvanos’ of the world is a very humbling experience.

I will be occasionally posting a  feature that will highlight quotes and anecdotes from famous and not so famous Italian Americans. ItalianAmerican will hopefully provide some inspiration and motivation, as well as a positive reflection of the immigrants that came to America, and their generations that follow.

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