Eric LeGrand ESPYs 2012: Former Scarlet Knight Wins Most Important Honor
Eric LeGrand's on-field excellence wasn't commemorated on Wednesday night, but his ability to persevere off the field was. LeGrand's ability to carry on earned him the Jim Valvano award at the ESPYs on Wednesday evening.
"Don't give up. Don't ever give up."
You would be hard pressed to find more famous words from a prominent sports figure. Now, almost 20 years after Valvano uttered those words at the 1993 ESPYs, an athlete who perfectly embodies that phrase wins the award presented in Valvano's name.
Not only is this award important, it's downright special.
LeGrand was paralyzed from the neck down after a collision on the field in 2010. He's been in a wheelchair ever since, but he doesn't plan on staying there.
Last year, in an interview with SI.com's Jon Wertheim, LeGrand claimed he plans to walk again.
I believe I will walk again. I do. When that happens, I already know what I'm going to do. I'll go to Giants Stadium and find the exact spot in the field where I went down. I'll lie there for a second. And then I'll get up on my own power and walk away.
I'm sure Valvano would get chills the same way I did after reading that.
Some people would get down after an earth-shattering incident such as the one LeGrand suffered against Army, but he managed to keep his head above water. The accident didn't create a weak person. If anything, it created a pillar of strength.
This message is more important than any award given out at Wednesday night's ESPYs. LeGrand provides a hopeful example for the world's most disheartening conditions.
LeGrand's will to walk is a gleaming message in the sky. It's the ultimate testimony to the human spirit, and it comes from a young mind. It doesn't matter how many buckets LeBron scores, how many times Anthony Davis gets taken No. 1 or how many yards Drew Brees passes for.
This is the message you want America's youth to see. This makes the ESPYs worth watching. It's a message that transcends the sporting world.
Watching LeGrand lead his Scarlet Knight team onto the field for one game last season was incredible, but this award showed something else.
It honored his ability to persevere, and that's what Valvano's award should be all about. LeGrand is a role model and a genuinely special person.
He couldn't be more suited to hoist an honor in Jimmy V's name, because he definitely hasn't given up.
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