I want to preface this stream of consciousness by stating that no words that I write will even begin to scratch the surface of Stuart Scott’s legacy, as well as his everlasting effect on those that both knew him personally, or those that knew him from afar. I can only hope that by writing these words I’ll be able to inform some, remind many, and personally reminisce on the person that Stuart Scott was, and the person that some of you will always remember him as. Upon receiving the news of Stuart Scott’s passing yesterday I was instantly taken back, unable to fully comprehend the magnitude of such a tragic loss. Honestly, I still don’t think it has entirely hit me that he is gone from this earth. I say tragic because Stuart Scott wasn’t just any old dude working for ESPN. Stuart wasn’t just the face of SportsCenter to me as a child. No. Stuart Scott was sports to me. Don’t believe me? Ask my mother. 7 AM SportsCenter was a religion to my brother and I as children. Well, that along with Rugrats at 8 PM. There we were, glued to the television as the sun came up in the morning, munching on sugar filled cereal, soaking it all in as we listened to Scott, Rich Eisen, Dan Patrick and Kenny Mayne perform color commentary of the sporting events from the night before. It became a ritual for us, watching and listening to he and his co-anchors seamlessly transition from highlight to highlight, filling each segment with trademark catch phrases like “Booya!” “As cool as the other side of the pillow,” and my personal favorite “The lawd said ya got to rise up!” In hindsight, I’d be remiss to not give Stuart Scott and his colleagues the credit they deserve for my insatiable love of sports. Scott was able to blend sports and hip-hop culture in such a way that I couldn’t withstand missing a single episode of SC.
Sports were cool because of those guys. Cool in a way that not only did we watch the 7 AM SportsCenter, but most time we’d watch the 7:30 SC, and the 8 o’clock show as well. I know, mom, I know… It’s the same highlights each time! As a kid though, I couldn’t get enough of it. To me, Scott was the face of ESPN, and subsequently sports in general, because he brought something to the table that few else were able to imitate no matter how hard they tried (I’m talking specifically to you, John Anderson). That being said, it’s difficult for me to fathom my life without Stuart Scott because I don’t think I would be the person I am today without him. While that statement may seem like an exaggeration, I promise you that it’s not. That’s because not only has Stuart Scott adjusted the lens in which I view sports, but he’s also adjusted the lens in which I view life in general.
Let me explain…
When I was in the ninth grade my mom picked me up from school one day, and instantly I could tell that something wasn’t right. She looked me in the eye as we sat in the car in silence, words hesitating on her tongue as if she’d perish at the mere utterance of them. She eventually worked up the courage and strength to inform me that my step-father had been diagnosed with colon cancer. It didn’t entirely register with me, but over the course of freshman year of high school I came to grips with the fact that my family and I were newly entered contestants in a fight against an opponent that had claimed, and continues to claim, the lives of many. I say “my family and I” because as many of you can probably attest to, cancer isn’t a disease that is fought alone. It’s a disease that should be fought head on by the person that has it, as well as that person’s support system. Cancer is a disease that taught me many things about selflessness, accommodation, and above all strength. My step-dad fought through his bout with cancer like the champ that he is, and we were right by his side through it all. I still remember the nights when he and my mother would drive up to Christiana for chemotherapy. My brother and I would arrive home after football practice, and there on the front steps would be dinner, pre-cooked and ready to serve, compliments of the Milford High School football boosters. It makes me tear up just thinking about it. Eventually, we were able to beat my step-dad’s colon cancer, and to this day I remember all that our bout has taught us.
This past year at the 2014 ESPY awards, Scott was presented with the Jimmy V Perseverance Award for his courageous fight with cancer, all the while continuing to provide ESPN and its viewers with an unprecedented look at sports culture. Unfortunately I was catching some Z’s at the time, but as fate would have it, I would hear Scott’s speech prior to my alarm going off in the AM. I woke up at 3 AM for a quick bathroom break, and like any other person that’s a part of my generation, I checked my iPhone. I had an ESPN text alert on my phone with a link to Scott’s ESPY speech, and I stayed up for an hour watching it over and over. It touched me in such a way that is too much for words, but I was quick to forward the message to my step-dad, knowing that he’d watch it in the morning before heading to work. Sure enough, when my alarm clock finally did go off there was the response from Mark, thanking me for making him cry prior to even brushing his teeth. It’s not that I wanted him to cry; it’s that I wanted to remind him of all that we’d been through together, and all that we would continue to go through together. Because whether it’s something as ruthless as cancer, or something as petty as a runny nose, I wanted him to know that we were, and always will be, in a fight together. I still watch Scott’s speech now and again, and of course I’ve watched it a multitude of times upon receiving the news of his passing. And with each playback of Scott’s heart-wrenching speech, I’m reminded of one thing, and that is
With that being said, I want to congratulate Stuart Scott for beating cancer, and for being one of my sports heroes. May he rest in peace, and my thoughts and condolences go out to his family, and to all those that share a story similar to my own.
Stuart Orlando Scott — July 19, 1965 – January 4, 2015