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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Bucs LeGrand prepared to receive Jimmy V Award during the ESPYs Wednesday

ericlegrand400.jpgEric LeGrand captivated a meeting room of 90 players when he addressed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during his visit with the team in June. Imagine  how many will be moved by his message at the ESPY's Wednesday night.

LeGrand, 21, the paralyzed former Rutgers University player who was signed by the Bucs as a symbolic gesture in May, will receive the Jimmy V Perseverance Award, named for Jim Valvano. The North Carolina State coach gave an iconic acceptance speech at the 1993 ESPYS that included his famous words "Don't Give Up ... Don't Ever Give Up!" He died of cancer later that year.

LeGrand, who played for Bucs coach Greg Schiano at Rutgers, suffered a spinal cord injury trying to make a tackle on a kickoff in a game against Army in 2010. Doctors initially told LeGrand he would be a quadriplegic and remain in a ventilator. But through hope, hard work and determination, LeGrand is breathing on his own and can stand upright with the help of a metal frame.

He said he won't stop physical therapy until he is able to walk again. 

"That’s how I continue to live my life, and I'm out there trying to inspire a whole world of people and change the world day by day," LeGrand said recently.

The Jimmy V Award is given to a deserving member of the sporting world who has overcome great obstacles through perseverance and determination. In 2007, Women’s College basketball coach Kay Yow became the very first recipient of the Jimmy V award.

Last year's winner was Arizona St. Div. I-A wrestling champion Anthony Robles (born without a right leg).

Former Buffalo Bills tight end Kevin Everett was the 2008 winner. In Week 1 of the 2007 season, Everett sustained a fracture and dislocation of his cervical spine that doctors called 'life threatening,' trying to make a tackle on a kickoff against the Denver Broncos. In the Bills home finale in 2007 against the Giants, Everett walked for the first time in public.

Northern State University men's basketball coach Don Meyer, who was involved in a serious automobile accident that resulted in partial amputation of his left leg and was diagnosed with cancer, won the award in 2009.  

The ESPY's will be televised Wednesday, July 11, at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN/ESPNHD from the Nokia Theatre at L.A. LIVE in Los Angeles. LeGrand was in Los Angeles Monday and will appear on the show.

"I can relate to that because I am never giving up in my situation," LeGrand told the Associated Press. "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."


[Last modified: Monday, July 9, 2012 3:54pm]


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