“Don’t give up; don’t ever give up!” – Jim Valvano.
Jim Valvano, one of the greatest NCAA basketball coaches, spoke these words in 1993 at the ESPY awards. If you have never heard his speech, please take a few minutes and watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HuoVM9nm42E. His energy and motivation are superhuman, as he was fighting a battle with cancer at this time, and had to rely heavily on his friends’ support as he walked off the stage. Valvano’s words are motivational for every aspect of life, certainly not only for athletes. Relationships, careers, and goals all require that intense inner strength from not giving up.
Cris Carter was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1987, but the team let him go two years later for off-field issues. He was picked up by Minnesota, turned his life around and became one of the top receivers of all time. He is in the Hall of Fame and an ESPN commentator. It would have been very easy for Carter to give up and say things just didn’t work out. Instead he persevered and came out not only on top, but in the elite group of Hall of Famers.
Kurt Warner is another example of never, ever giving up. He was undrafted in the 1994 draft. The Green Bay Packers brought him in for a workout but he didn’t make it onto the team. Warner stocked groceries for minimum wage until signing with Arena Football the following year. During this time, he became a Christian and continued his rise up toward the NFL. In 1999 he finally got a chance to play in the NFL with the Saint Louis Rams, throwing 4,353 yards and 41 touchdowns. This offense came to be known as “The Greatest Show on Turf.” Warner led the Rams to the Super Bowl, winning that game and being named the MVP. This grocery stocker is now a Hall of Famer and an NFL Network commentator.
Last summer at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Fantasy Football Experience, I had the once in a lifetime opportunity to sit and chat with Warren Moon as he ate his lunch. Warren’s words will stay with me always. He never, ever gave up when the NFL told him he could play in the league but he could not be a Quarterback. Instead of giving in and playing a different position, Moon took his skills to Canada. After several years of excelling in the Canadian Football League, the NFL finally changed their view and Moon went on to become the highest paid football player of his time and a Hall of Famer. I asked Warren why he kept trying when the odds were against him. He replied that he wanted to take care of his mama, and he never doubted that he would be able to do that. Well, he made Mama proud and continues to take care of her to this day!