Mesabi Range College running back Taquarius Wair will be honored with the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance at The 2020 ESPYS presented by Capital One, airing June 21 at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN. The award is given to a deserving member of the sporting world who has overcome great obstacles through perseverance and determination. After being severely burned in a fire at his family home at just four years old, Wair lost the fingers on his left hand.
“It is an honor to receive the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance and humbling to be on a list with the previous recipients,” said Wair. “I use the phrase ‘don’t give up’ in my life every day and I will continue to do so in the fight for my dream.
At four years old, Wair was severely burned in a fire at his family home – a fire that claimed the life of his sister, Shawneece. Doctors gave Wair just a 20 percent chance to live, but after a month in a coma and countless surgeries, he persevered. The adversity was far from over, of course; skin grafts and reconstructive surgery couldn’t save the fingers on his left hand, nor cover up his extensive scarring. Yet none of those challenges could keep him from pursuing his dream of playing competitive football.
Wair lent his indomitable spirit to both sides of the ball in high school, catching the eye of the coaching staff at Mesabi Range. Now he’s a beloved part of the Mesabi Range squad – an inspiration to teammates and coaches alike. He aspires to eventually play at a four-year college; given his mantra – “don’t give up” – it seems certain he will. Wair will be presented with the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance during The 2020 ESPYS presented by Capital One, hosted by Sue Bird, Megan Rapinoe and Russell Wilson, on ESPN at 9 p.m. ET on June 21.
“Taquarius embodies the determination, strength of character and spirit of the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance,” said Rob King,Senior Vice President and Editor-At-Large ESPN Content. “We are honored to recognize him with this award, and we’re inspired by all he has achieved – and will achieve in the future.”
In 2007, Women’s College basketball coach Kay Yow became the very first recipient of the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance. Past recipients include Eric LeGrand, Anthony Robles, George Karl, Dick and Rick Hoyt, Stuart Scott, Devon and Leah Still, Craig Sager, Jarrius Robertson, Jim Kelly and Rob Mendez.
The ESPYS help to raise awareness and funds for the V Foundation for Cancer Research, the charity founded by ESPN and the late basketball coach Jim Valvano at the first ESPYS back in 1993. ESPN has helped raise close to $116 million for the V Foundation over the past 27 years. The ESPYS are co-produced by Maggievision Productions.