Sager, effusive in his thanks and expression of gratitude to his family, friends, colleagues and ESPN, took the stage at the Microsoft Theater after a video narrative and tribute that brought him to tears in the audience.
"You try to live a lifetime of moments in three weeks, but then you say, 'The hell with three weeks!'" Sager said, referring to the aftermath of his leukemia diagnosis.
Vice President Joe Biden presented the award, calling Sager "a man of courage and loyalty with a hell of a team behind him."
"To everybody out there, we are making progress -- incredible progress," Sager said. "... We are going to find a cure for cancer. But we need your help."
During a commercial break, TNT colleagues Shaquille O'Neal, Charles Barkley, Reggie Miller and Ernie Johnson joined Sager and Biden on stage for a photo.
Biden later tweeted:
Sager, 64, has continued to work as he faces a recurrence of the leukemia he has been battling for the past few years.
"I will continue to keep fighting, sucking the marrow out of life as life sucks the marrow out of me," Sager said.
Sager missed 11 months while undergoing treatment for leukemia and a bone marrow transplant from his son before returning to his position on the sideline during TNT's NBA coverage in March 2015. But he revealed in an interview with HBO in April that his cancer was no longer in remission.
The Jimmy V 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.
Sager became close with Valvano when they worked together on basketball at the 1991 Pan American Games in Cuba.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.