Jim Calhoun has always been a fighter. Much like his Boston accent would indicate, the man never backs down from a challenge. Whether it was turning UConn into one of the top men’s basketball programs in the country, battling cancer four times, or taking over a brand new program at St. Joseph and turning it into a winner, he’s never shied away from a challenge. So it was no surprise that, after accepting the ESPY award for Best Coach, he talked about the challenges he’s faced, and the people who helped him overcome them.
In a four-minute speech that tugged at the heartstrings, Calhoun spoke about how he became the person he is, thanking the coaches and mentors who taught him how important it is to always pay it forward. Here’s his full speech.
It’s been a while since we’ve seen him in the national spotlight, but it’s great to see the old coach hasn’t changed. He won three national championships at Connecticut and then stepped away from coaching for six years. Last year he came out of retirement to coach the first men’s basketball team at St. Joseph, which was previously an all women’s school. He led it to a 16-12 record and the team reached its conference championship game.
ESPN also published a video highlight from the previous season narrated by former UConn legend Ray Allen.
Calhoun hasn’t changed much in the years since we last saw him stalking the sidelines in Storrs. He’s still the same feisty man from Massachusets people either loved or hated. But as he enters the twilight of his coaching career, we can all take a moment to appreciate the lessons he’s taught us based on the lessons he learned from those around him.