Stuart Scott, a popular anchor for ESPN for two decades, has passed away from cancer. He was 49.
ESPN ran a long tribute to Scott’s life Sunday morning on SportsCenter, the show that gave life to his television fame.
“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.”
Scott was first diagnosed with cancer in November 2007, when his appendix was removed and doctors discovered a tumor. It returned four years later and then again in 2013. He was very public about his battle with the disease. He spoke with the New York Times for this moving story and gave an emotional speech at the 2014 ESPY Awards, where Scott was presented the Jimmy V Award.
ESPN said Scott is survived by his two daughters, Taelor, 19, and Sydni, 15; his parents, O. Ray and Jacqueline Scott; and his three siblings Stephen Scott, Synthia Kearney, Susan Scott and their families. His girlfriend, Kristin Spodobalski, informed close colleagues at ESPN this morning of the news.
“Those girls [his daughters] are the reason why he fought as long as he did,” said ESPN NBA host Sage Steele, a longtime friend.
Scott joined ESPN in 1993 for the launch of ESPN2 and became one of ESPN’s and ABC Sports’ most recognizable personalities through his catchphrases (“Boo-Yah,” “As cool as the other side of the pillow”) on ESPN’s SportsCenter, where he anchored the 11 p.m. show.
During his career with ESPN, he covered the NBA Finals, Super Bowl, Major League Baseball playoffs and World Series, and the NCAA Final Four. He interviewed two presidents -- Bill Clinton and Barack Obama -- and many well-known athletic figures including Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods. His on-air style was not favored by all viewers or media writers, but it was unique and gave SportsCenter a different feel. He was also a trailblazer along with Greg Gumbel and Robin Roberts in bringing diversity to the SportsCenter set.
Prior to joining ESPN, Scott worked at local stations in Orlando, Raleigh and Florence, South Carolina. He graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1987 and was the commencement speaker at his alma mater in 2001.
Tributes from the sports world flowed in on Sunday morning. Tweeted Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson:
Said Ravens receiver Torrey Smith:
RIP Stuart Scott..thankful for the many words of wisdom he has given me over the last few years...prayers up for his family— Torrey Smith (@TorreySmithWR) January 4, 2015
ESPN said in lieu of flowers, the Scott family requested that donations be made to The V Foundation (www.jimmyv.org).