EXCLUSIVE: Ray Romano will star and produce a new film about the extraordinary life of American basketball coach and broadcaster Jim Valvano.
The script will be written by Jim Strouse, whose credits include Grace Is Gone and The Winning Season. Romano will produce with game1’s Basil Iwanyk, Greg Economou and Mark Ciardi (The Rookie). The Valvano family will provide key resources for the film, serving as executive producers.
Jimmy V’s life is the ultimate underdog story, peppered with courage and optimism when facing long odds. It starts with Valvano’s meteoric coaching ascent, including his astonishing run to the 1983 NCAA Championship with the North Carolina State Wolfpack. The team won a last-second victory over a heavily favored Houston Cougars team that had all time NBA greats Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler on its roster.
Valvano’s optimism never wavered, even when he received a tragic cancer diagnosis. His courageous reaction to the fate he was dealt was personified by his inspirational “never give up” speech at the 1993 Espy Awards while terminally ill. Not only was there not dry eye in the house, the momentum almost singlehandedly inspired a movement in the fight against the disease. It helped launch the V Foundation – which has raised over $300 million as one of the premier supporters of cancer research in the United States. Valvano died in 1993.
“We couldn’t be more excited to finally tell my father’s story in the form of a feature film, especially with Ray Romano and game1 as partners,” said Jamie Valvano, Jim and Pam Valvano’s middle daughter. “We had a front-row seat to one of the greatest stories of all time, and we are thrilled to share it with the entire world as well.”
Said game1 co-CEO Iwanyk: “Jimmy V was not only one of the great college basketball coaches of this generation, but one of the most inspirational and impactful figures in the world in terms of his efforts to eradicate cancer. Ray is the perfect choice to not only help produce this film, but to play Jimmy V.”
Said Romano: “Jim Valvano has always been an inspiration to me. I’m looking forward to working with the team at game1 as well as the Valvano Family to bring Jim’s incredible story and legacy to the screen.”
Here is Jimmy V’s speech:
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