On April 28, 1993, Jim Valvano died at the age of 47 after a yearlong battle with cancer. In his short but brilliant life, he managed to win an NCAA Championship, inspire and motivate every player he coached, and raise awareness and research funds for a terrible disease.
In Valvano’s ten seasons as the head basketball coach for North Carolina State, he guided the Wolfpack to eight NCAA Tournament appearances and captured ACC coach of the year honors twice. He will forever be remembered for perhaps the most famous college basketball game ever, NC State’s dramatic 54-52 victory over heavily favored Houston in the 1983 NCAA title game.
Valvano was diagnosed with terminal cancer in June of 1992. He remained full of life for the next 10 months, delivering a famous speech while accepting the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage at ESPN’s ESPY awards show. He also founded the Jimmie V Foundation to raise money for cancer research. The foundation raises five million dollars annually, and the Jimmie V classic is now one of college basketball’s most successful tournaments.
Jim Valvano was posthumously inducted to the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame in 2004.