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A version of this story first appeared in the Jan. 16 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Steve Levy and Stuart Scott were both 28 when they started at ESPN in August 1993 (“it might have been the same day,” Levy told THR) and went on to co-anchor hundreds of SportsCenter shows. Here, Levy reminisces about Scott, 49, whose battle with cancer ended Sunday:
Stuart did not want to be the status quo. He looked different, and I’m not talking about his skin color. The way he dressed — loud shirts, loud ties, really dramatic — he changed the game. All the guys I was coming in with, we all wanted to be Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann. Stuart didn’t come in that way. He wanted to be great, he wanted to be clever and smart, but he brought an edginess to him, a swag, a cool. He opened up the show to a whole different audience.
We had one awkward moment. In 2007, when we were hyping the 30,000th SportsCenter, which Stuart and I were anchoring, the media asked us about each other. I said he took a gamble with his style and delivery. He disagreed; he didn’t think he made a choice. This was him, he was going to be himself. And it obviously worked out. The guy’s a rock star.
A lot of the breaking news that we did was not joyful. It wasn’t always a Sammy Sosa–Mark McGwire home run kind of night. The night all the Joe Paterno stuff came out, we might have been on the air for three or four hours. That was also the beauty of Stuart: He could handle the hard news too.
A highlight had to be our trip to Kuwait in 2004 [to broadcast from a U.S. Army base]. He was clearly the star of the show, wherever we went, whenever we were on, and I didn’t have a problem with that. I had no problem playing second to Stuart Scott. I’ll take that job every day. I wish I could continue to do that today.
Read more: Hollywood Mourns ESPN Great on Social Media
He was a legitimate tough guy with a soft side. I wanted to be the one guy who wasn’t asking him how he was doing. He would tell me he couldn’t come into the newsroom because it was nonstop, “How are you doing? How are you doing?” It got to be too much for him.
The past seven or eight years, Stuart and I anchored the Sunday night SportsCenter after the Super Bowl. We both agreed that was our favorite show of the year. This year in Arizona will be very tough.
I think of Stuart as one of us. I mean, we’re sportscasters, we work in Bristol, Conn. But there was the president of the United States, the NFL playoff games, all six NBA games [acknowledging his death on Sunday]. It just speaks to the man.
There’s got to be a statue on the ESPN campus of this guy, like Michael Jordan outside the United Center in Chicago.
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