Often, our lives are touched by people whom we often see.
When we don’t see them for a while, we forget about their impact and only realize it when it’s too late to thank them.
For many Millennials and those who work in sports media, that day happened over the weekend.
Stuart Scott died at age 49 after a three-time battle with cancer. He left behind a family and a legion of fans who are better for his involvement in their lives.
His Impact on a Generation
Many of us were first introduced to Scott when he was a co-anchor on “SportsCenter.”
If I didn’t know what happened in the NBA, NHL or MLB the night before, I wouldn’t be able to crush my classes. “SportsCenter” was appointment television, the same way Walter Cronkite and, later, Johnny Carson were for my parents.
On a good morning, I caught Stuart Scott and Rich Eisen delivering the highlights from the previous day, repeated from the 1 am showing of “SportsCenter.”
Getting the bus at 7 am was never fun, so these broadcasts made mornings enjoyable. I knew I wanted to do something akin to it when I grew up, so I studied and noticed differences between the anchors.
Stuart Scott was the only black man on a show dominated by white guys like Eisen, Dan Patrick and Kenny Mayne.
Everyone on the show was smart, articulate and funny, but Scott stood out. He was the smooth-talking guy who had the cool catchphrases and brought such diction to the mainstream.
The Chicago native introduced the nation to the urban dialect and balanced his partners’ humor, most notably Eisen. While Eisen referenced Seinfeld, Scott referenced Martin.
My favorite call was when he evoked preachers exhorting from the pulpit, “And the Lord said, ya gotta riiiiise-up-ah!”
Looking back, I realize Scott made Eisen, a brilliant professional who does well with the NFL Network these days, look and sound dorky. Nonetheless, that chemistry made them our generation’s answer to “SNL’s” Dan Aykroyd and Garrett Morris.
I grew up in a well-to-do town that was mostly white and I had mostly white friends. There weren’t many shows that had crossover appeal, and music was either gangsta rap or post-grunge alternative rock.
Sports’ role as the common destination for everyone became magnified and “SportsCenter” grew more prominent in its role. Scott deserves immense credit for his expansion of the NBA as entertainment and the global embrace of the brand.
What Scott did to bridge that gap cannot be ignored.
What We Learned from His Battle with Cancer
Far too many of us have seen a loved one deal with cancer. It ravaged my uncle just months before ending his life.
Scott took on cancer not once, but three times, and did so on the public stage of show host, not shirking from his ESPN duties. We saw him on NFL shows and at the NBA Finals, still oozing that “cool” while his body battled.
To do so while in his 40s and not lose his persona took great faith and personal fortitude.
In a world of selfies and endless public statements, he quietly took on cancer for seven years. He drew strength from his family and friends, including colleague Merril Hoge who shared the battle with him, as he told us yesterday, on Sunday NFL Countdown.
While he was known for loud highlights and flashy catchphrases, Scott’s quiet dignity in private life taught us more about life than the years of highlights did.
For all he did professionally and all he endured personally, he never became a champion of the fight during his three separate battles.
Scott followed the same path as the millions who watched him for years: He woke up, ate his breakfast, went to work and lived his life without fanfare or cries for sympathy.
He didn’t let coworkers, celebrities or regular acquaintances see his suffering. As many great journalists do, he showed genuine interest in others; he refused to make the story about himself.
We sometimes get so caught up in our own lives, we rarely take time to thank those who helped us along the way if we don’t see them often. ESPN gave us that chance last year when they honored Scott with an inspirational ESPY for his perseverance through the years he battled.
He took the opportunity to speak from the heart and share wisdom he learned from the struggle he kept so private. It took all of his strength and willpower to stand there and accept the award with grace and humility, but the act spoke volumes.
Scott’s courage taught me to chase my dreams using my own voice and vernacular, even if I sound corny and awkward at times.
Stu, you left the world a better place than you found it, and that’s the best any of us can strive to do.
The post Why Stuart Scott’s Legacy In Sports Will Forever Be Untouchable appeared first on Sports Guide To Everything.