Behind The Scenes

Colleagues remember Valvano

Editor’s note: Television news assignment desk editor Nicole Coffey, who produced the above video for Front Row, reflects on Jimmy V Week For Cancer Research, which began Wednesday across all ESPN platforms.

For this Jimmy V Week assignment, I walked around the Bristol campus to talk with those who knew Jim Valvano and had stories to share with Front Row and our internal website, ITK.

Host and play-by-play announcer John Saunders was particularly close to Valvano. The two of them became fast friends when Valvano joined ESPN and ABC Sports as an analyst in 1990 and together shared many laughs and good times.

One re-occurring theme in their friendship was trying to figure out how to swing and conquer the popular golf training aide, the “Medicus.”

They would often swing the club, trying to make the perfect motion and to not have the club break.

See, the Medicus is a dual-hinged driver that will break down when a golfer makes an error in his swing.

Your flaws are often pointed out in the first second you take the club back.

To swing it all the way back and all the way through with no breakdown is a victory!

They could never quite get it.

One night during Valvano’s final days, Saunders visited.

Valvano was very weak and in his bed resting.

The two had a nice conversation, and as Saunders was about to leave, Valvano said, “Hold on, I have got something to show you.”

John Saunders and Jim Valvano are shown having a conversation on the studio set.

Valvano got out of bed and slowly grabbed the Medicus. He swung it straight back and straight through in the perfect motion.

He had finally gotten it! And he did so with a big smile.

He succumbed to cancer on April 28, 1993, just eight weeks after his famous ESPYs speech.

We carry on his spirit in the fight against cancer in our partnership with The V Foundation.

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