Prominent ESPN SportsCenter anchor Stuart Scott has died at 49 after a long and public battle with cancer, the network announced early this morning.
Scott was known for his trademark “Boo-Yah” exclamation in narrating the plays of the night while anchoring the SportsCenter evening round-up. The network noted that Scott was the source of nine catchphrases on the wall at ESPN’s Bristol, Conn., headquarters that showcases its anchors’ contributions to the colorful language of sports.
“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, who was honored with the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance at last summer’s ESPY Awards shortly before another round of surgery, told the audience, “When you die, it does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner in which you live.” Here is video of his speech:
Scott was born in Chicago, but grew up mostly in North Carolina. He went to high school in Winston-Salem, N.C. and college at the University of North Carolina, where he worked for the student radio station. After graduating, he worked in a series of broadcast outlets in South Carolina, North Carolina and Florida before being recruited from an Orlando station by ESPN VP of Talent Al Jaffe. He worked for ESPN for 22 years.
Scott first was diagnosed with cancer in 2007, after an emergency appendectomy (necessitated while he was covering an NFL game) revealed a malignancy. But he continued to work and thrive as an anchor on the cable powerhouse despite many rounds of surgery, chemotherapy and other treatments.
Stuart interviewed and played a televised game of one-on-one basketball with President Barack Obama, one of his two interviews with the President, and conducted numerous one-on-one interviews with the likes of Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Denzel Washington and President Bill Clinton.
Obama issued this statement on the news of Scott’s death: “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 twenty 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. Michelle and I offer our thoughts and prayers to his family, friends, and colleagues.”
Among the many projects Scott handled for ESPN were stories for ESPN The Magazine, coverage of the MLB, NBA and NFL playoffs and college basketball’s Final Four.
Most recently, Scott was in the anchor chair alongside his longtime partner, Steve Levy, when ESPN re-launched SportsCenter on a new set.
From 2007 to 2011, Scott was the host of ABC Sports’ weekly NBA Sunday studio show, ESPN’s NBA studio 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. Scott also was featured in countless This is SportsCenter commercials, which he so enjoyed.
Scott said a personal and professional highlight for him came in 2004, when he was requested by U.S. soldiers to be a part of ESPN’s SportsCenter: Salute the Troops effort, in which he and fellow anchors hosted a week of programs originating in Kuwait.
He was one of the most prominent African-American broadcasters in television, and his turns of phrase, ESPN acknowledged, helped build a strong bridge to younger black audiences as the cabler grew into one of the dominant TV properties. It also led to a lot of hate mail from mostly anonymous critics, though the network said he tried to respond directly to those who actually included a name and address.
Scott is survived by his two daughters, Taelor, 19, and Sydni, 15; his parents, O. Ray and Jacqueline Scott; his three siblings – Stephen Scott, Synthia Kearney, Susan Scott – and their families as well as his girlfriend, Kristin Spodobalski. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to The V Foundation (www.jimmyv.org).
Here is Good Morning America‘s feature on Scott:
And here’s the video tribute ESPN put together: