Sports Tearjerker

By Jeff Lippman - July 09, 2007

The company that brought the world such inspirational based-on-a-true-story sports movies as Miracle, Remember the Titans and Invincible has done it again, this time in real life.

This year's ESPY Awards will recognize the tearjerker of a real-life story going on in Raleigh, N.C. with the N.C. State team and coach Kay Yow's personal crusade against cancer, while at the same time, still managing to lead - and inspire - her Wolfpack to greater heights than any thought possible.

Yow will become the first recipient of the Jimmy V ESPY for Perseverance in honor of the late Jim Valvano and The V Foundation for Cancer Research, and I cannot think of a more appropriate award for anyone.

For a few nights each men's basketball season during the Jimmy V Classic tournament, we are showered with clips of Jim Valvano's famous ESPY speech when he announced the creation of the V Foundation and I don't care who you are, if you don't lose it watching that speech, you have no heart.

Anyone who paid attention last women's basketball season knows the story of Kay Yow. Let me go over the finer points for those who aren't aware.

Yow missed 16 games during the season due to cancer treatments that would not allow her the ability to be on the sidelines.

On Jan. 25 against Virginia, Yow made her return, her team had gone 10-6 in her absence. Barely able to stand, she bravely took back the reigns of a team that only cared about her own health.

Yow would have none of that, however, and she led by example, showing up every day. Chemo treatment after chemo treatment, Yow persevered. Slowly the message began to sink in for her players, and they responded, winning their first five games with Yow back until a loss to Georgia Tech.

That loss, however, would propel the Wolfpack into a five-game winning streak of epic proportions, perhaps the greatest five game span of the entire season and the awe-inspiring culmination of one of the most touching sports moments of the year.

Beginning with their dismantling of No. 2 North Carolina on senior night and ending with their magical ACC tournament semifinal victory over heavily favored No. 1 Duke - even the Duke fans were State fans that night - the Wolfpack would play harder and with more emotion for the leader they so loved.

N.C. State would eventually lose to North Carolina in the ACC title game, but not before giving the Tar Heels all they could handle, and no one expected anything less than an all-out effort from a team that would leave their hearts on the court trying to get an ACC title for Yow's mantle.

State didn't have the athletes that Duke or Carolina had, but heart goes further than skill and Yow and her bunch proved that.

The motto of the Jimmy V Foundation is "Don't give up. Don't ever give up," and that could not fit Kay Yow more perfectly.

As she prepares for the rigors of another season at the helm of N.C. State basketball, Yow continues to never give up and continues to send inspirational messages to her team and anyone else who cares to get involved with her story.

Jimmy V put it into words perfectly when he said, "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 will never forget the time I spent among Yow and her bunch at the ACC Tournament in Greensboro, N.C. this past season. It was the most emotional scene I have ever been apart of at a live sporting event and perhaps it will end up being the greatest moment I am fortunate enough to witness covering collegiate sports.

Don't let women's basketball's popularity get in the way of this amazing story. There was no greater or more touching this past year.

And so when Kay Yow accepts this great honor the ESPY Awards will bestow upon her on Sunday, July 15, the world should watch because sports doesn't often transcend its medium to become something with greater meaning, but when it does, it creates the stories that make movies like Miracle and Invincible so satisfying.

So I guess the only question left to ask is, who plays Yow in the movie?

Posted by Jeff Lippman at 09:51 AM on July 09, 2007
Comments (1)


How cool is it that sports people remember how much others are touched by someone overcoming something beyond explanation.
All i can say is that is what God is all about.
God Bless You Beyond Belief.

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