Former Bison coach wins prestigious ESPY award

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» Pictures of Coach Meyer with Coach John Wooden
» Pictures of Coach Meyer at the ESPY's
Don Meyer, right, visits with legendary basketball coach John Wooden in Los Angeles prior to the ESPY Awards this week.

Former Lipscomb University basketball coach Don Meyer received the “Jimmy V Award for Perseverance” from EPSN at the ESPY Awards Wednesday night, July 15, at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles.

The awards ceremony aired Sunday night, July 19, on ESPN with actor Samuel L. Jackson serving as host. During his acceptance speech, Meyer said that words from former UCLA coach John Wooden motivated him in recent months.

"Coach Wooden gave me a card that had on it three things that his father told him in elementary school. Don't whine. Don't complain. Don't make excuses. These phrases slapped me in the face every day in rehab as I looked around and saw others who were worse off than I was," said Meyer.

He also credited his faith, family and friends in playing a strong role in his life and in his recovery process.

Meyer’s award comes following his remarkable recovery from a Sept. 5 car accident that resulted in the amputation of part of his left leg.  However, neither the accident nor the subsequent cancer diagnosis were able to stop him from returning to the sidelines for the 2008-09 season, which saw him become the winningest men’s basketball coach in NCAA history.  Meyer, coach of the Northern State University men's basketball team, led the Wolves to victory on Jan. 10 to record his 903rd career win, breaking the previous record held by Bobby Knight.  Meyer finished the season with 910 career wins.

Lipscomb athletics director Philip Hutcheson and Wade Tomlinson, both players under Meyer, were present at the awards ceremony.

The Jimmy V Award for Perseverance is named for the late Jimmy Valvano, who coached at North Carolina State and later was an ESPN commentator before passing away from cancer.  The award is presented to a deserving member of the sporting world who has overcome great obstacles through physical determination and perseverance. The ESPY Awards honor the best achievements, moments and leading athletes of the previous year.

Meyer was the featured speaker April 28 at Lipscomb University's inaugural Don Meyer "Evening of Excellence" at Allen Arena. The event also served as the official kick-off for the National Bison Club, which provides support for 17 varsity athletics programs. Andy Lane is serving as the program's executive director. Plans are already underway for the 2010 "Evening of Excellence." The inaugural event, which featured Meyer as the guest speaker, attracted approximately 600 for a VIP dinner and more than 2,000 to hear his keynote speech.