New Orleans Saints superfan Jarrius Robertson has been selected to receive the Jimmy V Perseverance Award at The ESPYS on July 12, it was announced Wednesday.
Robertson, 15, has undergone two liver transplants and 13 surgeries, but his health hasn’t kept him from being the Saints’ biggest cheerleader. He’s become a fixture at games and has also joined the team for practices
“When I first heard the news I thought I was dreaming!” Robertson said in a statement. “The ESPYS? For real? The past two years have been a blessing in so many ways for me and my family. I have been able to do things I never thought I would be able to do. But to be included with Craig Sager, Stuart Scott, Leah and Devon Still, Eric LeGrand and the man himself, Jimmy V, is truly amazing and I am really grateful and humbled.”
Robertson will be presented the award at the 25th annual ESPYS, which will air live on ABC from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.
Robertson, who signed a “contract” last year on “Good Morning America” to become an official “hype man” for the Saints, has become a larger-than-life figure around the team, handing out an award on the NFL Honors awards show with Saints coach Sean Payton and Harry Connick Jr. earlier this year, among other appearances.
“As a coach, I am sure that Coach Valvano would love the energy and enthusiasm Jarrius brings to each day,” Payton said. “He would be proud to know that his mission of never giving up has been embraced by a young man who represents all the qualities that he looked for in a person. Jarrius is a perfect torch bearer for the Jimmy V Perseverance Award as his story and mission of ‘It takes lives to save lives’ resonates and touches everyone on so many different levels.”
The Saints first met Robertson when players visited Ochsner Hospital for Children in December 2015. His dynamic personality was on full display as he offered them coaching advice and declared, “Tell Sean Payton you got a new defensive coordinator!”
The Jimmy V Perseverance Award is given to someone in sports who has overcome great obstacles through perseverance and determination. It is named for Valvano, the NCAA-winning coach who gave an emotional acceptance speech at the 1993 ESPYS that included his famous words “Don’t give up. … Don’t ever give up!” He died of cancer later that year.
Robertson battles biliary atresia — a chronic liver disease that affects his physical growth. He has been in and out of hospitals since receiving a liver transplant when he was 1. At one point, he was in a coma for an entire year. He received a second liver transplant on April 30.
“Jarrius is such an inspirational young man,” Saints quarterback Drew Brees said. “His strength, determination and resolve along with his infectious energy and attitude should be an example that no matter the circumstances or adversity, with a positive outlook and embracing the motto of ‘Don’t give up. … Don’t ever give up,’ there isn’t a challenge that cannot be conquered.”
ESPN Saints reporter Mike Triplett contributed to this report.