Stuart Scott was and always will be the subtle yet flamboyant flip of a bat after a home-run. He was the monstrous receiver break dancing in the end zone after embarrassing a defense. He was the guard hanging from the rim after posterizing two big men for a dunk that measured on the Richter scale. He was all of that, yet he was just a sportscaster.
At least by title anyway. Let’s just call him what he really was though: a game-changer. Like many, I grew up watching Stu. He was part of my daily routine. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and SportsCenter. I didn’t always do the first three, but never skipped on SportsCenter. And he was always there, always injecting life into everything he did. Who else could make a mid-February game between the Milwaukee Bucks and Minnesota Timberwolves watchable? It wasn’t just watchable with Stu, it was must-see-TV.
I grew up in a single mother household, with an unhealthy obsession with all things sports. I really had nobody else around to talk about sports with or to explain things. So for the most part, ESPN and SportsCenter were my vessel into the sports world and Stuart Scott was the driver. His style was unique and it was cutting edge. It forever changed the way sports is presented, but perhaps bigger than that is that the things he did changed how we as the public view sports as a whole. If there ever is a Hall of Fame for sports anchors, he goes in first ballot. Hang up his sport coat in the rafters, retire the microphone.
Scott accomplished too many things to list while sitting behind a desk in Bristol, CT and the things he ushered in mean a lot to me and millions of others, but I think the thing that I will personally remember him most for has nothing to do with SportsCenter or even sports. Cancer has undoubtedly had an impact on most of us if not all of us. To me it is a bad, despicable, and vile word. To Stuart Scott, the word “cancer” was a rallying cry. Stuart Scott didn’t have cancer – Stuart Scott attacked cancer.
When cancer goes to bed at night it has nightmares about Stuart Scott. Who else even thinks about training to be a UFC fighter while battling an internal dogfight for your life? If you haven’t seen cancer treatments and the devastating toll they take on their patients, you do not want to. To think that in the midst of all of this that Stuart Scott was not only continuing to work, but learning a whole new craft that is as physically demanding as any sport he could participate in is mind boggling.
For Stu, that was just his style. He did things the Stuart Scott way. His nearly decade long fight against cancer put him in a completely different spotlight. He used his already loud voice and stature to be an inspiration to everyone battling cancer, sports fans or not. The way he fought and the manner he fought will continue to be an inspiration to countless numbers of people. “You beat cancer by how you live,” he said while accepting the Jimmy V Perseverance Award at last year’s ESPYs. His body was showing the toll the cancer was taking on him, and it was extremely visible.
Despite the visible evidence, I’m not sure we realized how dire his situation actually was. The tastefully flamboyant way in which he carried himself combined with the stoicism he showed, and the fight he displayed, all disguised it from us. When the news dropped that he had passed, we we were all saddened. More than that, I think we were all shocked. How many other times are we shocked when someone who has battled cancer for so long passes? To me at least, that alone speaks volumes about Stuart Scott.
Having some time to reflect on it, the entire picture has really shed a new truth on his departure though. He won. Stuart Scott went out fighting. He never cowered and never dropped his head. He touched millions and there is little doubt his story will touch millions more to come. Impressive as that is, he did it all on his own terms. He did it his way. The Stuart Scott way. And for that, I can really only think of one thing to say: Boo-yah!
There is the “he’s so cute, but I wish he would let me sleep” stage from our early lives through our toddler years that help to establish how we know love.
Then the “he’s so cute, but he’s a holy terror” period, running from 3 to 6-years-old, determines our tendencies toward obeying laws and rules.
The “he’s so cute, but doesn’t know his left from right” learning stage from 7-12 are the roots of our education and understanding.
The “he’s so cute, but he needs to stop obsessing with sports/video games/music/whatever” stage from 13-16 determines what is cool in our lives, and always will be.
But perhaps the most dangerous stage, the most pivotal stage, are the “he’s not so cute anymore, and he needs to determine his future” stage from 17-22 is perhaps the most formative. At that age, we are aware of who we are becoming and the struggle between who WE want to be, and who others expect us to be.
I said all that to say this: Stuart Scott showed up at ESPN in 1993, right as I entered that pivotal stage.
And I LOVE sports. All of them. I played as many as possible, and watched or followed all of them. Before school, I watched SportsCenter. After practice in the afternoon, I watched SportsCenter. On the days I stayed home from school (not skipping Mom, I was legitimately sick *cough * *cough*), I watched SportsCenter. All day. I grew up with Stuart Scott. He taught me what was cool, even though I was never cooler than the other side of the pillow. He made sports cool, even to those who did not like sports. Most importantly, he exuded cool. He was the anti-Chris Berman. He never blurted “bumbling, stumbling, rumbling,” choosing instead the poignant, simple, yet powerful “BOO-YAH!”.
As I journeyed to college, and realized I was not going to be a pro-baseball player nor a doctor (ah, the dreams of youth), I was lost looking for something to aspire to be. Stuart Scott and Rich Eisen, two people who had day to day interaction with my life, led the way. I loved sports. I was a capable and relatively imaginative writer. Stuart and Rich were cool, and they wrote/talked about sports for a living. BOO-YAH! A communications major was born. I did interview for, and was offered a few newspaper positions after running my college paper for some time. But, sadly, life and finances took hold, and I was chose to follow the money rather than my heart. Sports had begun to fade out of my life, and so had Stuart. But from time to time, I would venture back to ESPN for an NBA game, and see my old friend greeting me once again. His easy smile and his ability to never seem upstaged or overwhelmed by the “superstar” he was interviewing was amazing. He seemed as popular, as cool, and as important as Shaq, Allen Iverson, or even Bill Clinton.
In ironies of all ironies, I had a ruptured appendix right after Stuart Scott did, only he faired far worse then I. In short glances and side takes, I watched my television friend change, grow thin, and even leave the air for periods of time. When he returned, you could see the damage his body had undergone, but his spirit was still there.
As it often happens, my life has changed over the years, and my focus on my family, my religion, my job, and my finances over took my early devotions to a wide variety of sports, leaving me to pick and choose a select few due to time and family requirements. But in turning on the Cincinnati/Pittsburg game Sunday, I was floored to hear that Stuart Scott had passed. After rushing online to confirm it, I spent the rest of the day with him on my mind, although my friend and I had been separated for some time. As I lay awake in bed, reading and watching the tributes and heartfelt condolences by so many people, I truly realized how much I had treasured him in my earlier years. I was saddened that I had missed so many opportunities to watch a master at his craft, and even more so at the thought of his young daughters now without a father. But that’s not necessarily true. Stuart Scott left a bit of himself in so many of us. Will he ever truly be gone?
The quote we read often was one that he made just a few months ago when receiving the Jimmy V Award for his perseverance and fight. He talks of how cancer is beat. It is not beat by life and death, but how we live our lives. And those words can be applied to any aspect of our lives. Somehow, someway, Stuart Scott was still cooler than I will ever be, even when facing death.
Rest in peace, my friend. And thank you.
I am an 80’s kid. The first time I watched Sportscenter, I mean really watched it, was probably around 1998. I have no idea what sports broadcasting was like prior to that. Honestly, I think it was probably kind of boring or cartoonish like Champ in the movie Anchorman.
There had to be a transition to what it is today, which is more stylish and entertaining. To me that transition was Stuart Scott. He showed up on your screen in a crisp suit and glasses, with swagger. He wasn’t about to read you stats, he was going to tell his friends what they missed during the Bulls game. He was going to add a little extra upmh to an overwise dull 1-0 Red Sox game. He was as he liked to say, “Cooler than the other side of the Pillow.” Yeah, he had catchphrases. However, they weren’t your cliché run of the mill sports anchor jargon. He made it his own, and I can only imagine the honor that would go along with having your name attached to them.
Slam dunk: “BOOYAH!”
Receiver leaps for a pass: “FOR THE LOVE OF ELEVATION!”
Called strike threre: “Can I help you sir? No thanks, JUST LOOKIN!”
Outfielder makes a catch on the run: “HE PUT ON HIS P.F. FLYERS TODAY!”
He made reporting the game just as cool as playing in it. And after everything that he did in front of the camera, he graced us all with what it is to face cancer. If there was a way to fight cancer with honor he did it.
I’m glad that I got to see and hear this guy first hand. Explaining it to someone else, it loses its magic. He will be often imitated and never duplicated. He is and was simply the best, and that is all anyone needs to know.
They will see images and read articles of the man that inspired so many. They will receive messages of love and hope from his fans and colleagues, but it won’t make the loss easier. Nothing will.
The time you spend with a loved one that is going through what Stuart went through is hard. I done it myself at a young age. I remember when I was told my grandmother had cancer and that she only had a few months to live. I was maybe 10 years old. I didn’t know what to do, but I would visit and stay with her. My grandmother, much like Stuart, kept a positive mind during her sickness. She is now 16 years cancer free.
The reason I tell you about my grandmother, the one thing that could make me laugh or forget about the outside world, was watching the 30 minutes of Sports Center in the morning before school. Stu was always the morning anchor. I would be in my own little world listening to him do the highlights. His catchphrases would make me laugh and smile through a hard time. I think I called myself Windex Man a thousand times playing basketball in my back yard. Or used “as cool as the other side of the pillow”, when I was pretending to hit the game winning buzzer beater in game 5 of the Western Conference Finals. I even called my brother “Butter” when we played two on two (you didn’t want any of the Collier brothers) cause he was balling.
Just this past year, before ESPN introduced a new set, they had anchors go back and give some commentary on their first show. Stu was talking about the suit he was wearing, explaining that back when he started big and baggy was in style. I lost it when he said, “There still some brothers who, they will wear suites like that. Not a lot of brothers, some brothers. And Berry Melrose.” When I saw that I lost it. I laughed so hard that I couldn’t breath.
Stuart Scott, I never met or talked to you, but you will forever hold a special place in my heart. You made a young child’s difficult time easier and you didn’t even know it. Your legacy will forever be remembered. You are one of the greats.
For thirty minutes Sunday night, I got out of bed, went downstairs, and just watched ESPN’s personalities reflect on the excellence of Stuart Scott. Their genuine heartbreak over the loss of someone was just too big to ignore.
A trailblazer – maybe a bulldozer – that brought a young demographic into the world of sports in a way that ESPN would not have been able to do without him. I can say with confidence that outside of my dad, Stuart Scott had the most influence on my personal investment in sports today. Considering I never met the guy, that’s huge.
But it wasn’t just the “Boo-yah” (apparently spelled “boo-yow” by Scott) and other sides of pillows. It was dropping the Fresh Prince lines – “See what had happened was…” – and pressing the B button for spin moves and “The Lord said you got to rise up!” and his flawless lead-ins that set the tone for a highlight the way no one else can do and the myriad stats he fit into one homerun camera shot (“Chipper Jones – boo yah – three doubles, two homers, and 8 RBIs in his last two games and this one gives the Braves a 3-run lead in the bottom of the eighth.” I made the stats up, but you get the point. He’d say all that in the three seconds it takes a baseball to leave a ballpark.) and perhaps most importantly, the way you knew if he was doing a highlight then it was a big deal.
Yes, I wrote that as one sentence. It was on purpose. Because he was all of those things and apparently he was all of them simultaneously. The man was gifted. And gone too soon.
I haven’t mentioned the cancer or his daughters. Don’t really have the heart for it, and others have said it more eloquently. But you’ve probably seen and heard enough of him at this point in the week to have seen his acceptance speech at this July’s ESPYs. I’ll leave you with the inspiring quote anyway: ”When you die, it does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner in which you live.”
One of the perks you receive when you are an editor is getting to read pieces before they are published. I get to see the ideas and thoughts of my friends before anyone else does. It’s one of my favorite parts of the job.
As I read all the thoughts and memories of Stuart Scott by the talented gentlemen above, I got to see firsthand the inspiration of Mr. Scott. I got to read their memories of Stuart, the favorite catchphrases, and the overall influence that he had on each of them. Even though none of us here has ever met him, Stuart Scott is, indeed, a friend.We don’t talk about people in this manner without considering them as such.
To each contributor above, Stuart was their friend they saw on television every morning, that talked sports with them and made them smile.
Stuart Scott was a fixture of my morning for years. I would get up for school and there was my friend in his snazzy suit ready to talk sports. He would tell me all about the players, the standings, and overall news that was currently making the sports world go around. Stuart basically was my friend. And from the accounts of people that have met him, he seemed to be the person that once he met and talked with you, he considered you a friend as well.
There isn’t much I can say about Stuart that the talented writers above haven’t already said. He is the best to sit at the ever changing desk of Sportscenter. He single handedly changed how sports broadcasters delivered us the news and highlights of the day. If it wasn’t for Stuart Scott there wouldn’t be a Scott Van Pelt, John Buccigross, or Neil Everett. You wouldn’t have broadcasters that instead of just delivering mundane news jargon every night, they tried to connect with their audience by bringing their own personalty and creativity to the viewer.
Without Stuart Scott, there wouldn’t be a Daniel, Jasan, Reid, Joe, Andrew, or Aaron wanting to be creative and put our thoughts about sports, and all the other stuff we enjoy, on paper. Stuart influenced us to look at sports a different way and be passionate about all of life enjoyments. And, more importantly, when you share them with other people to never be ashamed to convey how much you enjoy them when you get the opportunity to tell people. Every time Stuart was on television, he showed you how much he loved sports by the way he reported them: With enthusiasm and excitement.
When Stuart announced he had Cancer, it was heartbreaking. As we watched his body grow frail, we realized just how devastating the sickness can be. But every time I saw him on television, he showed me that Cancer doesn’t have to take control over your life, much like Joe said about my grandmother’s view after she was diagnosed. It doesn’t have the final say in how you look at this world and interact with it. The choice to continue to live was his, not Cancer’s. A true action of a warrior if there ever was one.
I hope that every time you read a piece published here that you connect with it in some way. Whether it’s about sports, movies, music, or television, I hope that this blog can connect with it’s readers like Stuart did with us, by making you feel like you are visiting with an old friend that makes you smile. Just like Stuart did every time he took his seat at the desk, looked into the camera, and made “Welcome to SportsCenter, I’m Stuart Scott” sound like “Hey man! Good to see you again! Did you see that game last night? You didn’t?! Well, sit down and I’ll tell you about it.”
Stuart, my friend, we will miss you.