TO be clear, I’ve lost one of my heroes today. This morning I learned that Stuart Scott, long-time sportscaster for ESPN had passed away. After 8 years of battling cancer on and off, he finally succumbed today at the too young age of 49.
I discovered Stuart Scott in my late teens. There was a period where things were thin and we couldn’t afford cable anymore. Not being from a sports family, I’d never bothered trying to watch ESPN before then. One day I had the idea to try an use the cable wire as an antenna to get picture as sharp as cable, so I ran the old cable wire into the IN on our living room VCR. Just to see if I could get anything. My younger brother sat by watching. And hoping.
We still had one of the old VCR’s that had the UHF/VHF/UF tuner gears, and I found if I twiddled with them I could get a weak signal through the VCR. I didn’t have to fish long before I got something. I twiddled more to get a better picture. What I ended up with was a few cable channels. They came in grainy and in black and white, but there they were.
And one of those channels was ESPN.
In my experience sportscasters were people like Big Al Meltzer and Howard Eskin. But ESPN had these guys Dan Patrick, Keith Olbermann. They also had this awesome duo of Rich Eisen and Stuart Scott. They transformed how I saw sports. The way they talked about it made me want to hear about it and learn about it.
They spoke about each sport like they were fans of it. If you did something awesome, they cheered it. If you got taken, they clowned you. Their delivery was as much about them and their take on the sport, as it was about the sport itself. I adopted the style of “This Is My Take” and now I tell my perspective even if the world disagrees. As a result, the duo of Eisen and Scott is in the DNA of every word you’ll ever read from me.
To be clear, I’ve lost one of my heroes today. Not only for the early days when I first stumbled across SportsCenter, but also for the way he continued to do what he loved even as he battled for his life. Thinking he’d beaten this thing and then having to do battle with it again.
In 2006 I lost my grandfather to cancer, it started in his lung and then went everywhere. In 2012 I lost a friend who was like a brother to me at the age of 34 to pancreatic cancer. That monster leaves its mark on survivors, but when it claims someone it’s nothing short of brutal as it takes people away from you a piece at a time. Reducing them to shadows before turning out the light. Yet Stuart battled it. He kept going. He kept living. He stayed as cool as the other side of the pillow.
And again, to be clear, I’ve lost one of my heroes today.