Why I Do What I Do: A Tribute to Stuart Scott


In 1987, a young man named Stuart Scott graduated from the University of North Carolina with a bachelor of arts degree in speech communications and radio, television, and motion pictures. Stuart later joined the ESPN family of networks in 1993 for the launch of ESPN2, and became a staple in many ESPN roles as a host, reporter, and witty interviewer. Today, we mourn the loss of Stuart Scott, 49 years old, who died Sunday morning after years of battling cancer. Stuart was an all-time great; not just as a broadcaster, but as a father, a friend, and an inspiration to many who have never even met him.

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As the only man to make a sorry show like ESPN2’s SportsNight of the early 1990’s watchable, Stuart Scott brought something new to the world of sports talk and reporting. He brought a lively, and friendly voice to ESPN shows that needed an extra push. As a frequent host of SportsCenter, Monday Night Football, and many other popular ESPN shows throughout his 21 years with the network, Stuart dominated every appearance, and every performance anytime the cameras were on him.

Every “BOO-YAH” and every witty, pop culture reference made us smile, laugh, and relate to Stuart the same way we do to our friends. Growing up as an avid SportsCenter viewer, when I would hear Stuart describe various players as “cooler than the other side of the pillow,” or “[Player] must be butter ’cause he’s on a roll,” I could not help but wonder how much fun it must be to be so good at your craft, and still be so loose in front of millions of viewers every day. However, Stuart did it big in every performance, and inspired the media veterans around him, as well as young, upcoming broadcasters and players we see entering the sports world now.

Nov 11, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; ESPN announcer Stuart Scott prior to the game between the Miami Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

However, Stuart’s wit and connection with a whole new generation of sports fans is only the beginning of what he has done to inspire many more even outside of the world of sports. During his battle with cancer, we learned much more about Stuart as a person, and a father through SportsCenter specials depicting his journey. In every interview about his condition, Stuart would constantly bring up his two daughters who now survive him, Taelor and Sydni. You could always see his passion for his family. In ESPN’s tribute to Stuart, numerous former colleagues of his mention how much he spoke of his daughters, and how much he cared for them. Dan Patrick, Scott Van Pelt, Rich Eisen, among others spoke highly of Stuart about how he changed sports broadcasting, and how he managed to keep so close to his family throughout his career, and his fight with cancer.

During his 2014 ESPY’s speech, as he accepted the Jimmy V Perseverance Award after a series of rigorous cancer treatments, we all saw everything there was to love about Stuart Scott. He was witty, he was confident, he was inspirational, and he reminded us what is important in our lives, as he battled for his. Stuart introduced us to his world: “I said, I’m not losing. I’m still here. I’m fighting. I’m not losing.  But I’ve got to amend that.  When you die, that does not mean that you lose to cancer.  You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and the manner in which you live.  So live.  Live.  Fight like hell.”

It is that very connection, and his will to persevere that inspires me to make every stride towards what I want for my life, and for my family. I hope to have a relationship with my family, as well as those who watch my career, similar to Stuart’s with his, and I hope my life has even half the impact on others that Stuart’s has had on us all. There never was, and never will be someone like Stuart Scott again.

So tonight, as Rich Eisen asked in his tribute to Stuart, let us all turn our pillows to the cool side, and keep Taelor and Sydni Scott, as well as the rest of the Stuart’s family and friends, in our thoughts.