Jimmy V Perseverance Award
Former Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand will be presented the Jimmy V Perseverance Award at The 2012 ESPYS presented by Capital One on July 11. During a 2010 game against the Army Black Knights, LeGrand, then a junior with the Rutgers squad, suffered a spinal cord injury that ended his playing career and changed his life forever.
LeGrand, who signed an honorary contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in May, has come a long way since that day in 2010. Initially told he would be a quadriplegic and would have to remain on a ventilator, LeGrand worked hard and steadily improved over the following weeks. He began breathing on his own and later even began standing upright with the aid of a metal frame.
The Jimmy V Perseverance Award was named after, and inspired by, the late Jimmy Valvano who became the award’s raison d’être at the 1993 ESPYS. While battling cancer, Jim Valvano gave an emotional acceptance speech that included his famous words “Don’t Give Up . . . Don’t Ever Give Up!”®. Valvano passed away less than two months later, but his words were never forgotten.
The Jimmy V Award is given to a deserving member of the sporting world who has overcome great obstacles through perseverance and determination. In 2007, Women’s College basketball coach Kay Yow became the very first recipient of the Jimmy V award. Like LeGrand, Valvano was a proud Scarlet Knight. He led the Rutgers basketball team to a third place finish in the 1967 NIT, was named Senior Athlete of the Year in 1967 and currently stands as Rutgers’ 21st highest scorer with 1,122 points.
LeGrand’s perseverance both mentally and physically has inspired many, including his new Buccaneers teammates and sports fans across the country. He recently visited the Bucs’ training complex to visit with players and announced that his No. 52 jersey will be sold online with proceeds benefiting spinal cord research.
“It is truly an honor to be awarded the prestigious Jimmy V Award,” says Eric LeGrand. “His attitude and perseverance through his battle was and is truly inspiring. The will to never give up is how I live my everyday life with the battles I have to face. I am humbled to receive this award and I will live out Jimmy V’s words for the rest of my life.”
“Eric embodies the same spirit and passion that Jim Valvano had, showing determination in the face of adversity,” says Maura Mandt, executive producer of The ESPYS. “We’re proud to honor Eric with the Jimmy V Perseverance Award for never giving up despite encountering challenging, life-changing obstacles. We can all learn something from his inspirational story.”
About The V Foundation
The V Foundation for Cancer Research was founded in 1993 by ESPN and the late Jim Valvano, legendary North Carolina State basketball coach and ESPN commentator. Since 1993, The Foundation has raised more than $120 million to fund cancer research grants nationwide. It awards 100 percent of all direct cash donations and net proceeds of events directly to cancer research and related programs. Administrative and fundraising expenses are paid by the Foundation’s endowment. The Foundation awards grants through a competitive awards process strictly supervised by a Scientific Advisory Board. For more information on The V Foundation or to make a donation, please visit www.jimmyv.org.
The ESPYS gather top celebrities from sports and entertainment to commemorate the past year in sports by recognizing major sports achievements, reliving unforgettable moments and saluting the leading performers and performances. The 2012 ESPYS marks the shows 20th telecast and will recognize both sport-specific achievements, such as “Best MLB Player” and “Best WNBA Player,” and best-in-sport winners, such as “Best Team” or “Best Female Athlete” that pit nominees from different sports against each other. The ESPYS honor ESPN’s commitment to The V Foundation for Cancer Research, a partnership launched with the late Jim Valvano at the inaugural ESPYS in 1993.
Fans will determine the winners in all ESPY categories (except the Arthur Ashe Courage Award and other special awards) by voting online or on ESPN Mobile Web at ESPN.com/espys.
Sports fans can follow The 2012 ESPYS on Twitter @ESPYS and use the #ESPYS hashtag for live tweets during the show.