Longtime ESPN anchor Stuart Scott died Sunday after a seven-year battle with cancer. He was 49 years old.
Scott began his career at ESPN when the network launched in 1993. He hosted shows “SportsNight” and “SportsCenter” and regularly anchored NBA and NFL programming. He later hosted other shows for the channel, including “NFL Matchup,” “NFL Live,” “NFL PrimeTime” and “NFL Countdown.” He also hosted the NBA Finals and “NBA Fastbreak.”
Scott became known for his writing and delivery style on the network, expanding the lexicon of sports broadcasting. His unique catch phrases such as “Call him butter, he’s on a roll,” “Boo yah!” and “as cool as the other side of the pillow” made him a standout among sportscasters of the time.
“Well, that’s who Stuart is. He is ‘the other side of pillow,’ the man who made sportscasting cool,” “SportsCenter” anchor Jay Harris told ESPN. “God bless whoever it was who thought to rearrange the bedding at ESPN.”
Scott’s work also appeared in each issue of ESPN the Magazine in his ‘Holla’ column, where he scored interviews with top athletes and newsmakers such as Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, former President Bill Clinton and then-Senator Barack Obama.
“He didn’t just push the envelope,” former ESPN anchor Dan Patrick told ESPN. “He bulldozed it.”
In a statement, ESPN President John Skipper called Scott a “true friend and a uniquely inspirational figure,” adding that his “energetic and unwavering devotion to his family and to his work while fighting the battle of his life left us in awe, and he leaves a void that can never be replaced.”
Scott was diagnosed with cancer in 2007, the network said, after he had an emergency appendectomy. Doctors were able to remove the cancerous tissue and he continued working on-air while undergoing preventive chemotherapy. The cancer returned in 2010, and he went into remission in 2012. He was diagnosed again with cancer in January 2013.
For his ongoing fight against cancer, Scott received the Jim Valvano Award for Perserverance at the ESPYS in July 2014, where he shared he was suffering from liver complications and kidney failure.
Scott was born in Chicago, Ill., and he attended the University of North Carolina where he graduated in 1987. He later worked as a reporter in North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida.
In an obituary on ESPN’s website, Steve Wulf, a former executive editor at ESPN The Magazine wrote:
So while the grief is deep at ESPN over the death of Stuart Scott, so is our gratitude. He was as popular on campus as he was in the airports he passed through and on the sidelines he worked over the last 22 years. He brought so much to the party, and he will continue to do so, through the people he inspired, and the language that he liberated, and the audience that will remember him.
Scott is survived by his two daughters, Taelor and Sydni, with whom he lived in Avon, Conn.