Amid Cancer Battle, ESPN Broadcaster Finds Strength In Bible Verses, Prayers Basketball Coach Sends Daily

ESPN Analyst Dick Vitale

ESPN Analyst Dick Vitale revealed over the weekend that he is getting strength from prayers and Bible verses sent him daily by Tennessee Volunteers of the Southeastern Conference Men's College Basketball Head Coach Rick Barnes.

Faithwire reported that the 82-year-old Vitale disclosed how deeply touched he is by the 67-year-old Barnes' simple gesture that he is brought to "tears" because of it. He expressed gratitude to Barnes in social media for giving him the inspiration as he battles a variety of illnesses including cancer.

"During Texas game vs Vols I shared that @RickBarnesUT sends me a DAILY PRAYER to lift my spirits in my battles vs Melanoma,Lymphoma, & my vocal cord problem.I was shocked when he started doing this .This AM after a tough L at Texas he sends me this. Rick is special!" Vitale tweeted on Sunday.

Vitale's post included screencaps of the actual message the 67-year-old Barnes sent to him that contained a prayer for the former to have the graces needed to battle his illnesses and to be guided to do God's will. Barnes cited Biblical verses from Matthew 19:26, Psalm 91:1, and Psalm 46:1.

Barnes was also expressive of his love and support for Vitale, who previously received a Sports Emmy Lifetime Achievement Award having been a sportscaster since 1979.

"Lord, we know that Dick has been through a lot. Praying Father for you to give him rest for his mind, body, and spirit from the fatigue he is facing. We pray for needed strength. Things sometimes in life feel impossible but God you're word says that all things are possible with God (Matthew 19:26)," Barnes began.

"By your grace, allow Dick to find rest in your shadow (Psalm 91:1). Give Dick wisdom so he is able to take the right next step forward. Thank you God for being ever-present help, anytime we face troubles (Psalm 46:1). Thank you for carrying Dick so he can continue to do the good you have called him to. Amen. Love you Dick," Barnes concluded.

Sports Spectrum explained that Vitale received the text message from Barnes after the Tennessee men's basketball loss to Texas at 52-51. The game is said to be an emotional one for Barnes since he formerly was the head coach for Texas for 17 seasons, during which the Longhorns became part of the Final Four in 2003.

WBIR Sports Anchor Madison Hock reported that Barnes held a press conference on Monday to explain why he sends text messages to Vitale. Accordingly, Barnes is making "sure his friend is not fighting alone." Hock's post contained a clip of Barnes during the actual conference.

During the press conference, Barnes highlighted Vitale's contributions not only to college basketball but also to people who have cancer before he had his own. Vitale started helping people with cancer when his friend, Jim Valvano, who was a former college basketball head coach, died of cancer.

"We all know Dick Vitale has impacted a lot of lives. When you think about what he has done for college basketball, the enthusiasm, the passion, once he went on air. He has been a huge contributor to our game. That's why he is in the National Basketball Hall of Fame. He's had an impact just like any of the great players have had," Barnes disclosed.

"His involvement and what he's done for cancer is remarkable. He's impacted so many lives. I think God is using him in a great way,"

Barnes' statement references Vitale's annual gala for cancer patients that he holds through his V Foundation for Cancer Research, which he started in 1993 in honor of Valvano. The foundation has helped more than 12 million people survive cancer and have raised more than $1 million for Pediatric Cancer research.

Barnes also admitted having high regard for Vitale who is a "fighter" for not only himself but also for many other people. He then revealed how sending him text messages daily have personally helped him become closer to God.

"From the time I started texting him a prayer every day I said it has been good for me because it has given me a chance to spend even more alone time with the Lord," Barnes shared.

"I really have great admiration for Dick. He's a fighter right now. He's fighting a battle he has fought for so many people and like I said he's been an inspiration to a lot of people. Our conversations as of late have impacted me as of late as much as they've impacted him," he stressed.

Vitale announced in August 2021 that he was subjected to "multiple surgeries to remove melanoma" and "has been totally cleared" of it. Two months after, he announced that he has "been diagnosed with a form of cancer" called lymphoma and would be treated "with steroids and six months of chemotherapy," which provide "90-percent cure rate."

Vitale has pinned in his Twitter account last October 20 how this would be a real "challenge" for him, but he is encouraged by the many people who send him "love" and "support" such that he "plan on winning the toughest battle" he has "ever faced." He took the time off from ESPN last December so he can attend fully to his medical needs.

Despite his illness, Vitale continues to be a motivational speaker and shares "daily motivations" in Twitter, alongside his regular commentary on basketball games and players.