On Sunday, January 04, 2015 the nation woke up expecting tune into Sportscenter as a primer to the upcoming NFL playoff games that were to occur later in the day. However, what they got was some painfully bad news as sports journalists from throughout the ESPN family of networks sat teary-eyed in remembering groundbreaking newsman Stuart Scott as it was announced that he had recently lost his extended battle with cancer. For many in the hip-hop generation, Stuart Scott was the catalyst for their patronage of ESPN and a role model for many would-be African American journalists. He showed them that they could be great at their job and beloved by the viewers, while not changing their personality or diction to suit the tastes of a sometimes stuffy majority that didn’t like change.
Stuart seemed to want to be the People’s Sports Journalist. That appeared apparent almost from the very beginning. Born in Chicago, Illinois on July 19, 1965, Stuart Scott had three siblings. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1987 with a degree in speech communications and went on to work as a reporter at WPDE-TV in Florence, South Carolina and WRAL-TV in Raleigh, North Carolina before working at NBC affiliate WESH in Orlando, Florida. In 1993, Stuart Scott joined ESPN2 as the host of SportsNight.
For this writer, fresh out of high school, Stuart Scott represented a template of the type of professional that I wanted to grow into. I had long harbored aspirations of becoming a journalist of some sort, having made a habit of staying up late watching "The Tony Brown Journal" since 12-years-old. However, as a fan of the rebellious and revolutionary nature of the then fast-growing hip-hop culture, I was concerned. I didn’t want to be just some stuffed shirt locked into parroting someone else’s world view in whatever medium I chose to exercise my abilities in and I didn’t want to be someone’s reporter version of Al Roker either, who my young mind deemed as artificially jovial and overt in tired attempts at forced comedy. I wanted to be natural. Serious when it was time to be serious, yet able to reporter on things of a comic nature effortlessly and without difficulty. From the very beginning Stuart Scott quickly showed me that it was not only possible for me to do so, but my civic and cultural duty to do so.
After his initial SportsNight assignment, Scott branched out into NFL and NBA coverage and had a monthly column in ESPN the Magazine. Early in his career, Scott found himself frequently paired with anchor Rich Eisen on Sportscenter. His catchphrases, “Cool as the other side of the pillow”, “as cool as the other side of the pillow” and “Booyah” quickly became a part of the American language lexicon.
His celebrity was so profound that it transcended sports, a rarity for journalists of any specialty. In addition to his work on “NFL Matchup”, “NFL Primetime”, “NFL Live”, “NFL Countdown”, as well as his hosting duties for the NBA Finals and “NBA Fastbreak”, Scott appeared in a litany of non-sports related television programs and films as well.
At his tragic and heartbreaking passing, the entire sports world has poured out their deepest and most sincere condolences to Scott’s biological family as well as his extended ESPN family as well. However, we would be derelict in our duties if we did not mention that many in the mainstream, both colleagues and viewers, were opposed to the manner that he spoke or his urban-themed catchphrases either. For some, it was a matter of professional taste, for others it was a matter of racism. As is often the case with racist cowards, most of that hate mail was sent to him from anonymous sources. But that seemed to only convince Scott that his methods were righteous, and his motivation was pure.
On November 26, 2007, Stuart Scott was admitted to a Pittsburgh-area hospital for an emergency appendectomy but cancerous tissue was located and removed a week later. He returned to work after a month. The cancer returned again in 2011 but was believed to have gone into remission the following year only to return in January 2013.
In July 2014, Stuart Scott was honored with the Jimmy V Award at the "ESPYS" for his ongoing fight against cancer. While accepting the award Scott revealed that he had gone through four surgeries in seven days and that he was suffering from liver complications and kidney failure during that appearance. Despite his arduous and painful journey, Stuart Scott kept working through most of it. He never wavered, never complained and remained positive throughout his ordeal.
Early on the morning of January 4. 2015. Stuart Scott succumbed to his long battle with cancer. He will be missed by all who were inspired to be themselves in practicing journalism, the entire staff of The Shadow League and this writer. He is survived by his daughters Taelor and Sydni. He was 49-years-old. Rest in Power Stuart Scott. You will be missed but your legacy is eternal.