Stuart Scott, one of ESPN’s best-known “SportsCenter” anchors, died Sunday at a hospital in the Hartford, Conn., area after a seven-year battle with cancer. He was 49. Scott, who joined the sports giant in 1993 for the launch of ESPN2, was diagnosed with cancer in November 2007 and dealt with recurring bouts of the disease.
In addition to hosting “SportsCenter,” Scott covered numerous events and specials over his 21-year career with ESPN and ABC Sports. His most famous catchphrases — “Booyah!” and “As cool as the other side of the pillow” — have become part of pop culture; Scott was even parodied on “Saturday Night Live.”
“ESPN and everyone in the sports world have lost a true friend and a uniquely inspirational figure in Stuart Scott,” ESPN president John Skipper said in a statement. “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.”
At this year’s ESPY Awards in July, Scott was presented with the Jimmy V Perseverance Award, named after college basketball coach and ESPN sportscaster Jim Valvano (who died of cancer in 1993). In Scott’s acceptance speech, he said about his two daughters: “Taelor and Sydni, I love you guys more than I will ever be able to express. You two are my heartbeat. I am standing on this stage here tonight because of you.”
During his ESPYs speech, Scott explained how he approached his fight against cancer. “I said, I’m not losing. I’m still here. I’m fighting. I’m not losing,” he said. “But I’ve got to amend that. When you die, that does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and the manner in which you live. So live. Live. Fight like hell.”
On ESPN, Scott anchored the 11 p.m. telecast of “SportsCenter,” and most recently was paired with his longtime partner Steve Levy on the show’s new set. He also played major hosting roles for the sports programmer’s NFL and NBA coverage, including the NBA Finals and Super Bowl, as well as the Major League Baseball playoffs and World Series, and the NCAA Final Four.
From 2007-11, Scott hosted ABC Sports’ weekly “NBA Sunday” studio show as well as ESPN’s NBA show, and served as a host during the NBA Finals Trophy presentation each year. Scott also hosted numerous ESPN and ABC series and specials, including “Dream Job,” “Stump the Schwab,” ESPN’s 25th Anniversary Special and “The ESPY Red Carpet Show.” In addition, he was a regular contributor to ESPN: The Magazine, ESPN Radio and ESPN.com, and was featured in multiple “This Is ‘SportsCenter’” commercials.
Prior to joining ESPN, Scott worked at local TV stations in Orlando, Fla., Raleigh, N.C., and Florence, S.C. He graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1987, earning a bachelor of arts degree in speech communications and radio, television and motion pictures. While at UNC, he played wide receiver and defensive back for a club football team. He was born in Chicago, but his family moved to North Carolina when he was young.
Scott’s cancer was identified after he became ill while covering the Steelers-Dolphins “Monday Night Football” game on Nov. 26, 2007, and he underwent an emergency appendectomy that revealed a malignancy. Four years later, Scott was diagnosed with a recurrence of cancer, which entered remission in early 2012 before returning in January 2013.
In remembrance of Scott, the White House issued the following statement from President Obama: “I will miss Stuart Scott. Twenty years ago, Stu helped usher in a new way to talk about our favorite teams and the day’s best plays. For much of those 20 years, public service and campaigns have kept me from my family — but wherever I went, I could flip on the TV and Stu and his colleagues on ‘SportsCenter’ were there.”
“Over the years, he entertained us, and in the end, he inspired us — with courage and love,” the statement continued. “Michelle and I offer our thoughts and prayers to his family, friends and colleagues.”
ESPN also posted a touching tribute video remembering Scott and honoring his legacy.
Scott is survived by his daughters, Taelor, 19, and Sydni, 15; his parents; and his three siblings, Stephen Scott, Synthia Kearney and Susan Scott. His girlfriend, Kristin Spodobalski, was with Stuart and “cared for him every step of the way,” ESPN said.
Scott’s family has requested that donations be made to The V Foundation.
article by Todd Spangler via Variety.com