ESPN personality Stuart Scott lost his battle to cancer at the age of 49. He leaves behind two beautiful daughters, a lot of memories, and a legacy that may never be duplicated.
A lot of athletes gave wonderful, touching tributes to Scott, including Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. Several celebrities paid their respects as well, including one President Barack Obama. Now you know you are a badass if the President of the United States shows you some love.
I’m going to take a different spin and share how he affected me as a viewer.
When Scott came to ESPN to help launch ESPN2 in 1993, I was a junior in college. At that time there were not too many black anchors on ESPN – or any sports shows and channels. One night I was in a dorm lounge and Sportscenter was playing on the big screen TV.
Suddenly I heard one of the anchors drop some hip-hop references. Thinking it was some sort of joke I looked up and noticed something I have not seen on ESPN: a soon-to-be popular black anchor on Sportscenter.
A few months after that my brother and I were talking in the dining room and the conversation turned to the NBA (as it usually does). Then out of the blue he asked me “yo, have you checked out that brother on ESPN dropping hip-hop lyrics on Sportscenter?”
My brother was not the only one who noticed.
Seemingly every brother – and a lot of younger white dudes – took notice, some to the point where they were inspired to embark on a career in sports journalism. And it has extended to sisters as well.
Without Scott, there would have never been a Michael Smith, a Jemele Hill, a J.A. Adande, a Mike Hill, and dare I say a Stephen A. Smith on ESPN, Fox Sports, and other sports media. There are a lot of younger brothers and sisters hitting the pavement in sports newsrooms around the country who counted Scott as a role model.
Most of all, Scott helped increase my respect for the sports media and inspired me to embark on a journey to carve a path into the sports world through sports blogging and podcasting. One lesson I took from him is that people will love and respect you more if you stay true to yourself.
Scott stayed true to himself on-camera – and by all accounts off-camera. People loved him, and there were those who hated him. Thankfully he never let the haters deter him from doing what he did best: bring an urban flair while talking sports on the highest platform in all of sports media.
In doing so, Scott made a lot of black people proud.
I am proud to say that he was my role model. I am also proud to call him my fraternity brother.
Rest in peace, Bro. Scott.