Tennessee basketball coach Rick Barnes was among the honorees at the 18th annual Dick Vitale Gala, benefiting the V Foundation, Friday night in Sarasota, Florida.
Barnes was presented with The Dick Vitale Spirit Award at the event, which annually raises several million dollars to support pediatric cancer research.
During his battle with health issues, including lymphoma, in 2022 Vitale—one of the most recognizable figures in basketball broadcasting who has called games for ESPN since the network’s inception in 1979—shared that Barnes was in the habit of sending Vitale a daily prayer via text message.
After missing much of the 2021-22 season to focus on his health and recovery, Vitale returned to his courtside broadcast position last November. And on Jan. 28, 2023, when Tennessee hosted 10th-ranked Texas at Thompson-Boling Arena, Vitale was on the call for ESPN. His colorful analysis served as the TV soundtrack for the Vols’ dominant 82-71 triumph.