Tory BarronESPN Editor
CloseTory Barron is a Bristol-based writer and editor for ESPN.com. After retiring from playing lacrosse at UConn, the DC native decided to try her hand at writing about people playing sports.
When legendary men’s basketball coach and broadcaster Jim Valvano died from cancer in 1993, he had already touched countless lives with the heartfelt rallying cry he delivered during his iconic ESPYS speech — “Don’t Give Up … Don’t Ever Give Up!” — and his improbable run to the 1983 NCAA championship with the NC State Wolfpack. Now, Valvano will inspire another generation thanks to a new biopic about his extraordinary life.
The film won’t lack for star power, as Ray Romano (“Everybody Loves Raymond”) will play Valvano. Romano also will produce alongside game1’s Basil Iwanyk, Greg Economou and Mark Ciardi (“The Rookie”). The script will be written by Jim Strouse, whose prior work includes “Grace is Gone” and “The Winning Season.” In addition, the Valvano family will serve as executive producers on the project.
Next year marks the 40th anniversary of when Valvano and “The Cardiac Pack” claimed a last-second national championship victory over a highly favored Houston Cougars team that included future all-time NBA greats Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler and their “Phi Slama Jama” teammates, so it’s only fitting that the film is in the works now.
AP Photo/Leonard Ignelzi
“We couldn’t be more excited to finally tell my father’s story in the form of a feature film, especially with Ray Romano and game1 as partners,” Jamie Valvano, Jim and Pam Valvano’s middle daughter, told Deadline. “We had a front-row seat to one of the greatest stories of all time, and we are thrilled to share it with the entire world, as well.”
Valvano’s legacy extends far beyond the basketball court. In addition to coaching at NC State (1980 to 1990), Johns Hopkins, Iona and Bucknell, he founded the V Foundation for Cancer Research with one goal in mind: to achieve “victory over cancer.” The V Foundation has awarded more than $290 million in cancer research grants nationwide and is one of the premier supporters of cutting-edge cancer research.