Jim Kelly, the Hall of Fame quarterback who has fought several bouts with cancer, will be given the Jimmy V Award for perseverance at next month’s ESPY Awards in Los Angeles, he announced Monday during his annual golf tournament.
“God willing, I’ll be there,” the Buffalo Bills legend said (via ESPN) in Batavia, N.Y.
The Jimmy V Award, part of ESPN’s annual awards show, was created in 2007 by the V Foundation, which raises money for cancer research. It is named for Jim Valvano, the late N.C. State men’s basketball coach who memorably addressed the audience at the first ESPYs in 1993 with the words: “Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.” Valvano, who died of cancer that year, was presented with the Arthur Ashe Courage and Humanitarian Award and added: “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. And those three things are going to carry on forever.”
Kelly, 58, underwent surgery for cancer in his jaw in 2013 and had additional treatment and surgery after doctors found it had spread to his nasal cavities in 2014. He was declared cancer-free in 2016, then announced earlier this year that he had suffered a recurrence. He underwent a 12-hour procedure in late March and was discharged from a New York hospital in late April.
Among others who have received the award are Craig Sager, Stuart Scott, Devon and Leah Still, Kay Yow, Eric LeGrand and George Karl. ESPN, according to the network’s Adam Schefter, plans to make an official announcement later Monday. Last month, retired NASCAR and Indy driver Danica Patrick announced she will host the awards, marking the first time they’ve been hosted by a woman.
The Arthur Ashe Courage Award will be presented to the hundreds of women who were sexually abused by former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State team doctor Larry Nassar. Over the past year, they have spoken eloquently and bravely about the abuse they endured and faced Nassar with their accusations in court. In January, he was sentenced to a minimum of 40 years and a maximum of 175 years in Michigan state prison — a life sentence for the 54-year-old former physician, who also faces a 60-year sentence for federal child pornography crimes.
The show is set for July 18 in Los Angeles and will air live on ABC.
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