Former Rutgers football player Eric LeGrand took home the Jimmy V Award on Wednesday night at the 2012 ESPY Awards. The Jimmy V Award is given to someone in sports who has overcome great obstacles through perseverance and determination. It is named after the late Jim Valvano, the North Carolina State coach who gave an emotional acceptance speech at the 1993 ESPYS that included his famous words “Don’t Give Up … Don’t Ever Give Up!”
“I can relate to that because I am never giving up in my situation. I know I will fight through it. Now getting this, this is a dream come true, especially on the 20th anniversary of the ESPYS. I was even thinking about it last year, thinking that could be me,” said LeGrand.
LeGrand suffered a spinal cord injury in a game against Army in 2010. Initially told he would be a quadriplegic and would remain on a ventilator, the defensive tackle is now breathing on his own and can stand upright with the aid of a metal frame. The New Jersey native resumed his studies via video conferences last year and led the Scarlet Knights onto the field before a game last season. In May, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed LeGrand to a symbolic contract.
Click here to watch Eric LeGrand’s inspirational and moving acceptance speech.