Remembering Stuart Scott, ESPN Broadcast Legend

Stuart Scott of ESPN

Image courtesy of ESPN/Photo by Rich Arden, ESPN Images

Remembering Stuart Scott, ESPN Broadcast Legend
| published January 6, 2015 |

By Earl Perkins
Thursday Review features editor

“When you die, it does not mean that you lose to cancer,” he once told a reporter for The New York Times. “You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner in which you live.”

Stuart Scott passed away Sunday morning following a long battle with cancer, but he fought the disease valiantly to the end, and the sportscaster will be missed by millions.

The 49-year-old informed and entertained audiences as an ESPN anchor and reporter for two decades, coming across with a fresh and never-before seen persona while introducing catchphrases to America's sporting world. His hip-hop approach and pop culture references immediately captivated the blacker, younger, ghetto and hipper audiences, and I eventually came to appreciate his approach to sharing sports information. Let's just skip over all the hate mail from those who resented his style, and his generation. The haters are gonna’ hate.

Who else could make reading the scores a truly fascinating event? Never a true screamer like so many talking heads, I know I'll miss his unique delivery during SportsCenter and Monday Night Countdown, along with his well-informed NBA and NFL insights.

"ESPN and everyone in the sports world have lost a true friend and a uniquely inspirational figure in Stuart Scott," said ESPN President John Skipper. "Who engages in mixed martial arts training in the midst of chemotherapy treatments? Who leaves a hospital procedure to return to the set? His energetic and unwavering devotion to his family and to his work while fighting the battle of his life left us in awe, and he leaves a void that can never be replaced."

I led this story with lines from Scott's July acceptance speech when he received the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance at the 2014 ESPY Awards, along with a hearty standing ovation from a packed auditorium.

Born in Chicago but raised in North Carolina, Scott received his Bachelor of Arts degree in speech communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1987. Following stints as a television reporter at several stations in the South, he joined ESPN in 1993 at ESPN2's inception, soon becoming one of the network's primary SportsCenter anchors. He was known for a rapid-fire delivery and unique hipster phrasing while describing highlights, along with popularizing the term “Boo-yah.”

Here are a few other catchphrases associated with Stuart Scott:


As cool as the other side of the pillow.

He must be the bus driver cuz he was takin' him to school.

Holla at a playa when you see him in the street.

Just call him butter 'cause he's on a roll.

They call him the Windex man 'cause he's always cleaning the glass.

You ain't gotta go home, but you gotta get the heck outta here.

He treats him like a dog: sit, stay.

And the Lord said you got to rise up!

By 2008 Scott was a workhorse at The Mothership, anchoring late-night SportsCenter shows and hosting Monday Night Countdown on location during NFL season. He served as lead host for NBA on ESPN and ABC, along with interviewing Barack Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign.

Scott's first cancer diagnosis came in 2007 following an emergency appendectomy, but eventually went into remission. He announced on Twitter in 2011 that the disease had reappeared, triggering several extensive rounds of chemotherapy treatments, as well as surgery. Even as he endured the treatments and invasive procedures, Scott attacked his work, life and charity appearances with a vengeance. In December 2012 he began publicly sharing more personal details concerning his health. He would only miss ESPN work-days for chemotherapy treatments every other Monday, followed by mixed-martial arts training.

"I can take this," he said at the time. "Deal with it easier than some people I see. So I think for the ones who can't punch a heavy bag, can't spar, who can't do any of that. I'll do it for you."

Scott missed several months of work in 2002 after his left eye was damaged by a football while working out with the New York Jets in advance of an upcoming story. He had previous problems with both eyes, including a detached retina, which had caused problems while reading from a teleprompter.

At least he had the opportunity to let the world know what he valued most in life—his daughters. Scott is survived by Taelor, 19, and Sydni, 14, the latter of whom joined him onstage at the ESPYs after he asked her to "come up here and give dad a hug because I need one."

"The best thing I have ever done, the best thing I will ever do," Scott said. "Is be a dad to Taelor and Sydni. Taelor and Sydni, I love you guys more than I will ever be able to express. You two are my heartbeat. I am standing here on this stage tonight because of you."

Early last year Robin Roberts of ABC News did a poignant interview with Scott concerning cancer, his eye issues and how he has coped with adversity.

“I’m blind in my left eye,” Scott said. “Contrary to what people say, it is not a glass eye so I have to protect my eyes at all cost.” He sported dark sunglasses during his MMA sparring, and then sat down to discuss his reaction following his initial cancer diagnosis in '07.

“That was just kind of a surprise when the doctor said, ‘We did a biopsy on your appendix and you have cancer,’ ” Scott recalled. “Like the first thought [was], ‘I’m gonna die.’ There’s probably an expletive before the thought, ‘I’m gonna die,’ [but I] can’t say it. My second thought was, ‘I’m gonna die and I’m gonna leave my daughters and I can’t do that.' ”

Sports fans worldwide rejoiced as Scott emerged cancer-free following two surgeries and six months of chemotherapy, but two years later doctors discovered three tumors and the cancer had returned.

“After that time I kind of realized, at least for me, this is likely gonna be something I’m never gonna kick, so now what?,” Scott said. He then decided that cancer was “something I’m never gonna kick. I don’t want to know how many years you think I may have left. How many months you think I may have left,” he told Roberts. “I don’t want to know what stage cancer you think I have because what’s that going to do?” Scott's answer was hard work and MMA. He's got the right attitude, and at least he went out on his own terms. After all, when we have problems in life, isn't the best course of action to get the best advice possible and overcome adversity to the best of our ability?

“It’s for the mind better than any chemo to me. It’s better than any kind of medicine,” Scott said. “It’s my way of trying to kick cancer’s a**.” Scott conditioned himself with intense workouts at trainer Darin Reisler's West Hartford, Connecticut gym.

“It feels good to be winded, having trouble breathing, chest hurts…,” Scott told Roberts in the midst of a workout. “I’m alive.” Scott fought cancer so hard because he loved his daughters dearly. And he had so many dreams to share with them.

“The most important thing I do is I’m a dad," he said. "That’s my job. That’s my role. I want them to call me when they’re 26-years-old and they want a condo that they can’t really afford but I want them to call me and say, ‘Dad can you give me a loan?,’ because I want to say yes.

“That’s really what I’ve always wanted and needed with them for them is to be a dad for a long time, as long as they need a father,” Scott said.

Stuart Scott will be missed by sports fans everywhere.

Related Thursday Review articles:

Where Sports Met Style: Stuart Scott, Rest in Peace; Thursday Review; January 5, 2015.

Remembering Tony C and the Impossible Dream; Thursday Review; October 26, 2013.