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Watch: Jim Kelly accepts the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance at the ESPYs

Faith, family, friends, and fans.

At the 2018 ESPY Awards, former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly was honored with the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance. After an introduction from longtime ESPN personality Chris Berman, NFL Draft classmates of Kelly’s, Dan Marino and John Elway, took the stage to introduce Kelly.

During his acceptance speech he thanks a multitude of people from his childhood, his time with the Bills and beyond. He reiterated his four Fs he has lived with since joining the league: faith, family, friends, and the fans. He also noted that the first F has changed over the years from fun to faith as he has dealt with setback after setback.

When he took the stage, he was emotional after the video package showed the story of his perseverance, starting with the illness and death of his son, Hunter, who died at age 8 in 2005 from Krabbe disease. In response he founded Hunter’s Hope, a charity to support families dealing with the same illness, and pushed for universal newborn screening for the disease since Hunter’s diagnosis in 1997.

In 2013, Kelly was diagnosed with cancer in his upper jaw and he underwent surgery. Less than a year later in 2014, the cancer returned and he underwent radiation and chemotherapy. Following that stint in the hospital, he was diagnosed with MRSA. In March of 2018, as Kelly was preparing for reconstructive surgery on his jaw to address pain from the 2013 surgery, doctors found cancer on the other side of his jaw. That was removed and the entire upper portion of his jaw was replaced.

Kelly announced this week that he will need to go back to his New York City doctors next month to look at something that came up. He needs his stitches removed, for one, but he also noted “something came up” in his latest medical tests without going into more detail.

In his speech, he quoted the famous Jimmy V speech, the namesake of the award he received.

“Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up,” said Valvano in 1993.

He also added his own inspirational quote to the list of inspirational quotes from former Jimmy V Award winners:

“Make a difference today for someone who’s fighting for their tomorrow.”

You don’t need to be a superstar to make a difference. You can change someone’s life just by being you. By smiling when you come into a room. By calling or texting someone, you can make their day.

You can watch the entire video package from the ESPYs on Jim’s resilience here. Watch his entire speech below.