Those special March madness memories.

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.  – Jimmy Valvano


I actually remember this speech. It was 1993, more than 20 years ago. I was a Syracuse alum and loved Orange basketball so for sure I knew of NC State basketball and Coach V.

He was an icon.

He also was a crazy, sometimes-absurd, ridiculously passionate, Italian dude who coached with a heck of a lot of heart. Yes, there was scandal. Those details matter, of course, but they didn’t define him in my view.

At the time he delivered this passage as part of his speech at an ESPN awards ceremony, he had about 2 months to live.

His words ring true whether it’s cancer or another life-changing challenge. Really, when you think about it, you can change the word “cancer” to divorce, death, a job change, retirement, or almost any other hurdle.

The trick, then, is to remember that the hurdle cannot touch your heart. It cannot touch your soul. Easier said than done, I know.

But true nonetheless.

In fact, sometimes it’s exactly those hurdles that expand your heart.

And that make your soul sing.


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