In what should have been yet another joyous day of playoff football, the lights seemed a whole lot less bright on the news of the passing of Stuart Scott, the long-time ESPN anchor who had been valiantly battling cancer over the past seven years. For many Americans, Scott’s voice was one of the first they would hear in the morning or one of the last at night, reviewing the plays of the day in a vein that made it exciting, fun, and above all else, cool. Since joining ESPN in 1993, he had been a mainstay of SportsCenter, turning the rote and often corny role of a highlights announcer into something of an art, infusing images of dunks or touchdowns with proclamations of “Boo-yah!” or, most famously, calling a player or move “as cool as the other side of pillow.”
During his grueling treatment, Scott famously refused to learn how the prognosis of his cancer, often subjecting himself to strenuous workouts to keep both his body and mind sharp as the cancer persisted. Over this summer, as Scott was in the midst of serious treatment and having suffered kidney failure only weeks earlier, he took the stage for ESPN’s annual ESPY awards and received the Jimmy V award for perseverance, delivering a final speech to a crowd of athletes and sportscasters where he had become a giant of the profession.
"When you die, it does not mean that you lose to cancer," Scott said in his speech. "You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner in which you live."
You can watch the full speech below:
The news of Scott’s passing broke on Sunday morning, while ESPN was in full-swing preparing for the playoff and bowl games. Long-time ESPN anchor and friend of Stuart, Hannah Storm, had to deliver the news of his passing on-air, while barely holding back tears:
Rich Eisen, now on the NFL Network, but a co-anchor with Scott during the prime of SportsCenter, long before the Internet and Twitter made sports updates and highlights available in an instant, paid tribute to Scott by presenting the highlight of the Bengals and Colts playoff game entirely in Scott catchphrases:
Scott was also a mainstay in the string of incredibly funny commercials that promoted SportsCenter, often holding his own with some of the greatest players in the game:
RIP, Stuart Scott, the man who took a staid profession and made it into something cool and somehow beautiful.
Photos by Matt A. Brown / Icon SMI / Corbis