Now cancer-free, longtime ESPN college basketball announcer Dick Vitale is set to be awarded this year’s Jimmy V Award for Perseverance.
ESPN announced on Monday that Vitale will be the recipient of the Jimmy V award at the ESPYS in July.
"When I received the call from [ESPN president] Jimmy Pitaro about receiving this award, I was absolutely blown away," Vitale said in a statement. "I remember that day almost 30 years ago, when I stood on stage at the first ESPYS, introduced Jimmy V and witnessed him give that incredible speech we all remember. I reflected on his speech many times during my seven month battle — 'Don't give up, don't ever give up Dickie V' — and I remembered my mother and father, who taught me never to believe in 'can't'.
“Jimmy V was special and his legacy lives on. I am so grateful to receive this tremendous award in his honor."
Vitale has been with ESPN almost since the beginning, and was there for the first college basketball season after it launched. He called the first college basketball game on ESPN, and has been an icon in the sport ever since. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008, too.
Vitale, 82, has battled cancer twice in the past year. He had surgery to remove melanoma in August, and was then diagnosed with lymphoma in October. He started treatments and chemotherapy, and missed the majority of last season — though he did make an emotional return briefly for the Gonzaga-UCLA game in November. Vitale then stepped away for the season for good in January while dealing with vocal cord dysplasia.
Vitale announced last month that he was given the clear from his doctors to “ring the bell” and that he is cancer-free.
It was RING THE BELL TIME ! Yes it was a tough 7 months but it was super hearing Dr Brown @SMHCS say that I have zero cancer currently .I was inspired daily by the famous words of my late buddy Jimmy V “Don’t Give up DON’T EVER GIVE UP!” @amyuf @jksports @ESPNPR pic.twitter.com/uRQEzjOug2
— Dick Vitale (@DickieV) April 14, 2022
The Jimmy V award is, of course, named after Jim Valvano, who was Vitale’s former broadcast partner. Vitale actually presented Valvano with the Arthur Ashe Courage award in 1993. Valvano, who died of cancer in 1993 shortly after receiving the award, launched the V Foundation for Cancer Research, which is ESPN’s premiere charity dedicated to beating cancer.