The Jimmy V Perseverance Award was named after and inspired by the late Jimmy Valvano, former North Carolina State basketball coach and ESPN commentator. While battling cancer, Valvano gave an emotional speech at the 1993 ESPYS stating "Don't give up, don't ever give up." Valvano passed away two months later.
Meyer, currently the head coach at Northern State University (South Dakota), first made national headlines in 2008 as he marched towards overtaking Bob Knight as the winningest men's basketball coach in the NCAA.
However, shortly before the start of the 2008-09 season and just shy of the win record, Meyer was involved in a highway crash with a semi that nearly took his life. During surgery following the accident, it was discovered that Meyer had carcinoid cancer in his liver, small intestine and abdomen.
Due to injuries sustained in the crash, Meyer's left leg was amputated below the knee. He didn't let that, or his battle with cancer, keep him from coaching. Meyer returned to the court and opened the 2008-09 season on the sidelines in a wheelchair.
He broke Knight's record on January 10, 2009, when he recorded win number 903. He tallied seven more wins to end the season with 910 total victories.
Meyer's career as a head college coach began at Hamline University where he tallied his first 37 wins from 1972-75. He led the 1974-75 team to the NCAA quarterfinals while posting his second consecutive 16-win season.
Following his years at Hamline, Meyer moved on to coach Lipscomb University (Tennessee) until taking over at the helm of Northern State in 1999.