Athletes and sports media are mourning the loss of an iconic voice and personality, longtime ESPN anchor Stuart Scott. After a long fight with cancer, Scott passed away at the age of 49.
His energetic, unforgettable commentary was influential in sports reporting. Popular catchphrases such as “Booyah” and "As cool as the other side of the pillow," served as lively offerings during the highlights of major sporting events.
Joining ESPN in 1993, Scott’s style and sensibility wasn’t initially embraced. But his charismatic wit and ease of fusing hip hop references with sports turned him into a cultivator of pop culture and a standout in sports broadcasting. Viewers tuned in to SportsCenter to watch Scott deliver consistent punches of entertainment, something similar to a blowout musical performance or a slam dunk at the NBA Finals.
His defiance of sticking to what he knew best, despite others’ misconceptions, spoke to his brilliance and courage.
His fighting spirit was emboldened as he underwent three bouts of aggressive appendiceal cancer. His first diagnosis was in 2007. Four years later it would return, and again, in 2013. Battling against chemotherapy treatments that left the body weak, Scott took up mixed martial arts and intense cross-training workouts.
“I never ask what stage I’m in,” he told New York Times in a past interview. “I haven’t wanted to know. It won’t change anything to me. All I know is that it would cause more worry and a higher degree of freakout. Stage 1, 2 or 8, it doesn’t matter. I’m trying to fight it the best I can.”
As the news broke of his passing on Sunday, many took to social media to express their heartfelt sorrow and disbelief. Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, and others sports figures tweeted their condolences.
“Can't believe you're gone from us! I am deeply saddened because not only will not be replaced as a anchor or reporter but more than that as a genuine cool person…#RIPStuartScott,” wrote Lebron James in an Instagram post.
Basketball legend Michael Jordan released a statement expressing his sadness about the passing of his longtime friend and fellow UNC classmate:
“I'm so sad to hear the news that Stuart has passed away. He was truly a trailblazer in his field, and by refusing to change his style, made himself into a star. I always enjoyed sitting down to talk to him. But to me, he wasn't just a broadcaster; he was an old friend, who I'd known since college. He fought so hard against cancer and I hoped he'd win the battle. I send my sincerest condolences to his daughters, Taelor and Sydni, and his family and friends. Boo-yah, my brother.”
John Skipper, President of ESPN, also spoke on the passing of Scott.
“ESPN and everyone in the sports world have lost a true friend and a uniquely inspirational figure in Stuart Scott,” Skipper said in a statement. “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 is survived by his daughters, Taelor (19) and Sydni (15); his companion, Kristin Spodobalski; his parents; his sisters, Susan Scott and Synthia Kearney; and his brother, Stephen.
Watch his moving ESPY's speech upon accepting the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance here.