Jim Kelly delivers powerful messages at ESPY Award Show

Photo from thesportsdaily.com.

The world got to see something special last night. If you missed Jim Kelly’s powerful speech at the ESPY awards show after accepting the Jim Valvano Award for perseverance, do yourself a favor and check it out here:

The Jimmy V Award, which is in honor of Jim Valvano is given to “a deserving member of the sporting world who has overcome great obstacles through perseverance and determination.”

When you watch the video, be sure to look at the shots of the audience as Jim Kelly gave his acceptance speech. When someone in the fight of their life stands up in front of the world with a message to the rest of us about the blessings we have in our lives, it would behoove us to listen. It appeared everyone in the audience was receiving his message loud and clear.

If I learned anything since becoming an oncology nurse/psychotherapist (after working often with hospice staff over the last 42 years), it’s that the experience of having cancer presents unique challenges to the soul. It’s a mysterious disease – always lurking with an existential threat to swallow one’s entire being.

It’s not like heart disease or other illnesses that are easy to visualize. Cancer is a murky, quirky mystery that makes one question why any cell in our body would go awry and turn against us.

The enemy within us.

One of the most challenging obstacles to spiritually conquering this vicious disease is the constant urge to get obsessed with the WHY. The amount of mental energy expended by trying to determine why a diagnosis of cancer happened could metaphorically build another Empire State building.

Photo from quantamagazine.org.

It’s a spiritual black hole to get sucked into the why – and the only way to avoid it is to do exactly what Jim Kelly does every day of his precious life now – appreciates every single moment and continues to give back.

People often ask me how these incredibly brave people can step forward and share their wisdom so willingly and lovingly with the rest of us. My observation after working with the souls of those fighting cancer is that there is a distinctly therapeutic need on the part of someone experiencing cancer to reach out and share their internal wisdom.

After watching literally hundreds of people go through this experience, many kind enough to allow me to share in their journey, it became clear most people want to share some of their life experience. By doing so, it allows a person to assign some sort of meaning for their personal suffering.

Humans innately seem to harbor a desire to leave something meaningful behind after death. This can be viewed through a scientific lens and be explained as an evolutionary behavior through the development of instinctual knowledge.

However, science has a difficult time explaining our spiritual side. We are more than the sum of our cells. The soul needs to experience meaning and purpose that can be fulfilled in a number of different ways.

Photo of QB Josh Allen and Jim Kelly from democratandchronicle.com.

Jim Kelly’s soul is evident in everything he does and says these days. His defiant speech about never giving up clearly came out of the very heart that beats within this passionate man. His message was clear and powerful. He triggered a specific message in me that I’ve repeatedly heard on the death bed of many people over the years.

Do. Not. Waste.Time.

Don’t waste time on negativity. Don’t let the toxicity all around us envelope our soul and prevent us from being our best. Show an act of kindness toward another human being, no matter how small – and then pay attention to how it makes you feel.

Understand no matter how stressed out life may seem, it is precious and can be gone in a flash. Incredibly, many spiritual warriors I’ve worked with over the years have told me that their cancer experience was the greatest gift they ever received.

It’s easy to shed a tear and talk among ourselves about how Jim Kelly is such a hero. It’s much harder to use his words of wisdom to change the world – one smile or one kind word at a time.

Editor’s babble: Sometimes messages come along to remind us to focus our attention on the things that really matter in life. Jim Kelly’s exceptional journey provides a treasure trove of reminders about where we should be putting our energy every single moment of every single day of our lives. Sending love and gratitude to all who took the time to read this. 

About Robyn Mundy

Robyn Mundy is Editor-in-Chief of the BillsMafia blog at BuffaloFAMbase.com. She's a retired oncology nurse & psychotherapist who loves to write about her life-long passion for the Buffalo Bills, and occasionally something of clinical or social relevance. Robyn lives with her husband Gary and their dogs in the foothills of the Big Horn Mountains in Wyoming. Robyn is also a proud founding sponsor. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynMundyWYO.

15 Replies to “Jim Kelly delivers powerful messages at ESPY Award Show”

  1. Beautifully said Robyn,and a message I need to take to heart. I have metastatic lung cancer that just reared it’s ugly head in my lymph node and I’m waiting to find out what my treatment will be. One thing I do know is that every day is precious! Keep up the great writing.

    • Thanks so much, Marcy. I’m sorry to read about the recurrence of lung cancer in your lymph nodes. Please know you will be in my thoughts and prayers as you move through the next phase. Please feel free to DM me if you ever have questions or just want to vent. One thing important to remember in your situation. Throw out every statistic about lung cancer you read in terms of prognosis. There are several new drugs out that may completely change the trajectory of the disease! Keep me posted.



  2. How do you omit from the article the fact that Jim is inspired and led by his faith, first and foremost?
    He isn’t led by some mystic force of the cosmos, he is led by Jesus Christ who taught his principles in the middle east over 2,000 years ago. If people understood the rationale behind why his faith keeps him strong they wouldn’t fall into a spiritual black hole when they undergo trials- even death sentences.

  3. My article wasn’t intended to discuss Jim Kelly’s religious beliefs. It is a message of encouragement for those facing challenges. Religiosity and spirituality are not necessarily mutually inclusive. Thanks for reading and commenting. I truly appreciate it.


    • I hear you Robyn, thanks for the reply.
      Jim has frequently mentioned relying on his faith for getting through challenging times and circumstances- earliest I can remember is when Hunter was born. Faith was often mentioned as providing his strength during Hunter’s life and after, as well as during his battles with cancer. Through those unimaginably difficult times he held on to his faith rather than placing blame, getting angry at what life was throwing at him and rejecting it (and God). In other words, faith is core to Jim’s being, identity and ability to persevere. He gives credit where credit is due. Peace.

  4. Robyn,

    Thank you for this article. It provides so much insight for many of us praying for Jim Kelly and his family. Your background and experience really add another great perspective as well. What an inspiration Jim Kelly is (and his beautiful family) and when you look at the faces of everyone in the audience…you know his message had a profound impact. I know it did for me.

    And of course….Go Bills!

    • Hi Cynthia,

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting. We can all learn a lot about living from Jim Kelly and his brave battle. He’s a champion in so many ways.

      Take care,


  5. Robyn , onnce again you were able to say what many of us are feeling . To be able to have grace and dignity through such an ordeal and pass on a positive message to us all is amazing . Thanks for the wonder story of your feelings . You do this so well .

    • Oh my, thank you so much for the kind words. The words just flow from all the people I’ve worked with over the years. I’m just the vehicle.

      Jim Kelly is a beacon of light in a very dark room. His courage is a daily inspiration for so many of us, with or without cancer’s ugly presence!

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting. It means a great deal :)

      Take care,


  6. Thank You Robyn..

    I lost both parents to cancer late in their lives and both my brothers have beat it. My brothers don’t show it but I can tell it is always lurking in their minds when they get sick, find a lump, get a muscle strain or even the normal aches and pains. I can see it on their faces and hear it in their voices when they make their Dr. appt to get checked… It is such a relief when I hear the words everything is clear and we joke how it sucks getting older…

    Watching Jimbo’s speech brought tears to my eyes an made me appreciate the quality of life I so enjoy with my family. and friends… What that man and his family have had to endure is a testament to their will power to conquer any obstacle in their way… Watching the Kelly’s on stage and dancing down the hallway brought back of memories of the Beatles tune “Love is All You Need” !!

    Jim Kelly will always live in our hearts and he is the Greatest Buffalo Bill of all !!


    • Dear Goose,

      I’m so sorry to read about your family’s experience with cancer. You described exactly what I’ve observed over the years… fear of recurrence from this mysterious disease is ever-present no matter how many years after diagnosis.

      For about 30 of he 40+ years as an oncology nurse, the progress against cancer was slow and very frustrating, but all of that is changing. The last ten years of cancer research have finally produced treatments that are completely different and far more effective.

      People diagnosed with certain types of cancer today should throw out all the statistics regarding survival because the newer treatments are likely to change the trajectory of the disease (finally). However, we still have a long way to go, that’s for sure.

      Sending lots of positive thoughts to you and your family. Thank you so much for the kind words. They mean so much to me :)

      Take care,


      • One thing my family members all had in common is that they were heavy smokers at one time. They all eventually quit and hadn’t smoke in years before the cancer hit… I was the only one that didn’t smoke and knock on wood I haven’t had the cancer scare. it could be just a coincedence but I believe smoking played a part in the health issues.