ESPN’s longtime college basketball analyst Dick Vitale will take the rest of the season off to rest his voice ahead of planned vocal surgery, he said Monday. He said he plans to be back in action at the start of the 2022-23 season, which would be his 43rd calling games for the network.
Writing on ESPN’s Front Row site, Vitale, who returned to work in November after battling two separate forms of cancer in 2021, said he was diagnosed with Dysplasia and ulcerated lesions of the vocal cords and would need surgery. That will require “an even longer T.O., Baby!” he wrote in a nod to one of his signature lines, meaning he will have to shut down for the rest of the season.
“So, while I’m heartbroken that I won’t appear on ESPN for the rest of this season, I’m encouraged by the progress,” he wrote. “In fact, it appears that by resting my voice for the past three weeks, I’ve reduced the inflammation by 60 percent. Let’s hope the added rest will help it heal some more, and things will look even better when I go for my next follow-up visit on Feb. 16. Once the inflammation heals, we will set a date for surgery.”
Vitale, a unabashed cheerleader of the game, a former coach who has called more than 1000 games for ESPN and ABC, was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008. A fixture in the sport, his emotional return to ESPN in November to call the Gonzaga-UCLA game was as talked about as the game between the nation’s top two teams.
The 82-year-old had surgery to remove melanoma in 2021 and just weeks later was diagnosed with lymphoma. He wrote today that “no doubt these past five months have been emotionally and physically frustrating,” but thanked his doctors and ” the calls, texts, and social media expressions of encouragement from friends, colleagues, fans, media and members of my ESPN family.”
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