ESPN Anchor Stuart Scott Dies at 49

Associated Press
Scott at the ESPYs on July 16 in Los Angeles.

The veteran sportscaster died of cancer less than six months after he accepted the Jimmy V Perseverance Award in an emotional moment at the ESPYs

Stuart Scott, an entertaining and enthusiastic anchor on ESPN’s SportsCenter since 1993, has died. He was 49.

Scott, known for his catchphrases “Boo-yah!” and “cool as the other side of the pillow,” died of cancer Sunday, the network announced. 

Scott addressed his illness when he accepted the Jimmy V Perseverance Award on July 16 at the 22nd annual ESPY Awards. The honor is named after the late North Carolina State basketball coach who vowed to "never give up" after he was diagnosed with bone cancer.

“When you die, it does not mean that you lose to cancer,” Scott said. “You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner in which you live.”
Scott was first diagnosed with cancer in 2007 after he became ill while covering a Monday Night Football game, and a tumor was discovered when his appendix was removed. The cancer returned in 2011 and again in 2013, and he had four surgeries in the week leading to his inspirational appearance at the ESPYs. During his recoveries, he took up mixed martial arts to battle the disease.

In addition to his work on SportsCenter and the network’s pre- and postgame coverage of the NFL, Scott was a regular onsite contributor to ESPN/ABC’s NBA games

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“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.”

A native of Chicago’s South Side, Scott and his family moved to Winston-Salem, N.C., when he was 7. He graduated from the University of North Carolina, then worked as a reporter at TV stations in Florence, S.C., Raleigh, N.C., and Orlando before landing a gig at ESPN2.

“He didn't just push the envelope," sports radio host and former ESPN anchor Dan Patrick told the network. “He bulldozed it.”

Said Scott's frequent co-anchor Steve Levy: “I think the audience recognized that when Stuart was on, there was going to be something special. And to his credit, he brought something special every night he was on.”

Scott and Rich Eisen made for a popular SportsCenter anchor team in the late 1990s, and they appeared together in the Disney comedy The Kid (2000).

Eisen, now an NFL Network anchor, was on the air Sunday morning when he heard that Scott had died. He fought back tears and said his former ESPN partner was “one of the most joyful, full-of-life individuals I have ever come across … I love you Stuart. Wherever you are, Godspeed, rest in peace.”

The White House issued a statement by President Barack Obama: "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," the president continued.

Scott was parodied in a Saturday Night Live skit; appeared as himself in Mr. 3000 (2004), Herbie Fully Loaded (2005) and Just Wright (2010) and on the TV shows Arli$$ and Soul Food; and played reporters or announcers in He Got Game (1998), Enchanted (1998) and Drumline (2002).

Survivors include his teenage daughters Sydni and Taelor, parents O. Ray and Jacqueline, siblings Stephen, Synthia, Susan and their families and his girlfriend, Kristin Spodobalski.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to The V Foundation

Twitter: @mikebarnes4