Local News

Laughing, Thinking and Crying -- About Jim Valvano

Posted March 30, 1996 6:00 a.m. EST

— March 31, 1996, 6:50 p.m. EST

Related WRAL-TV5 News Audio Files:Listen to Pam Valvano discuss her reaction to the filming of the TV movie about her late husband, NCSU basketball coach Jim Valvanoau format.

For Pam Valvano, the widow of North Carolina State University basketball coach Jim Valvano, watching the TV movie about her late husband's life is still difficult.

She told WRAL TV5's David Crabtree and Pam Saulsby that even though she delayed undertaking the project (first suggested by a CBS TV executive), then worked closely with the writers for accuracy, and has seen the film three times, it hasn't gotten easier.

Valvano captured the imagination of devoted Wolfpackers and sports fans everywhere when his "Cardiac Pack," beat all the odds and won the 1983 NCAA Basketball championship.

Several years later he was diagnosed with cancer, and fought the disease courageously, exhorting a packed house at Reynolds Coliseum on the NC State campus to "never give up. Don't give up." Despite his gritty determination, he died in 1993. His funeral cortege was several hundred cars long as mourners joined his wife and three daughters in demonstrating their sense of loss.

Anthony LaPaglia is the actor who plays the coach in "Never Give Up: The Jimmy V Story," which will air 9 p.m. Tuesday on WRAL-TV5. (WRAL-TV5 Sports will present a special program looking at Valvano's life and times at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.)

A Raleigh youngster, 11-year-old Amanda Minikus won the role of Le Ann, one of Valvano's daughters.

Amanda says she cried a lot for the first few days of shooting, as she became more involved in the script. She said she doesn't think she will ever forget "everything that happened to this family."

Pam Valvano is hopeful that the program will draw attention to The V Foundation, a fundraising organization that provides money for fellowships and research in cancer.

And she said she still tries to follow her husband's maxim, which she had carved on his headstone. To have a complete day, Jim Valvano counseled, one must do three things every day -- laugh, think and cry