Here’s my personal Stuart Scott story. I was attending a journalism convention and hustling from one part of the host hotel to another to meet some friends at a party. I saw Scott standing outside of a hall where ESPN was hosting an invitation-only gig. I stepped to him, introduced myself and we exchanged “hellos.” I was surprised by how short, but fit he was.
When he died Sunday, Scott was only 49, Scott fought a long, hard fight against cancer, but he never lost the fight. He simply ran out of time.
Stuart Scott brought something to ESPN and SportsCenter there wasn’t much of when he got there: soul.
The average score-reader can pronounce the right words and read the script and tell you who won and won lost. Scott brought realness, flavor and some street style swagger to his presentation and that made him my favorite anchor on ESPN.
It’s not surprising Scott’s approach rubbed some the wrong way who didn’t dig what he was doing. That’s okay. Innovators always attract plenty of critics who don’t get it as well as fans who do and Scott was an innovator. He wasn’t just another diversity hire delivering the details in the same old way all the old White guys had already done it before . Scott was young, stylish, was up with the current slang and down for not pretending to be something he wasn’t. Scott was more Authentically Black than any other anchor on ESPN ever had been before and he did so while crossing over to enjoy mainstream acceptance.
Scott was funny, smart and pulled off the delicate trick of keeping it real without selling out, which is why he got love today from across the spectrum:
Michael Jordan: I’m so sad to hear the news that Stuart has passed away. He was truly a trailblazer in his field, and by refusing to change his style, made himself into a star. I always enjoyed sitting down to talk to him. But to me, he wasn’t just a broadcaster, he was an old friend, who I’d known since college. He fought so hard against cancer and I hoped he’d win the battle. I send my sincerest condolences to his daughters, Taelor and Sydni, and his family and friends. Boo-yah, brother.
LeBron James: Can’t believe you’re gone from us! I am deeply saddened because not only will not be replaced as an anchor or reporter but more than that as a genuine cool person. What u did for our culture, bringing that Swag to reporting can only be copied(which I hear it today on tv watching sports). I would say not because they stealing your swag, it’s all out of RESPECT! It was always a breath of fresh fun air when u would show up and we’d chat up. Thank you so much for being u and giving us inner city kids someone we could relate to that wasn’t a player but was close enough to them.#RIPStuartScott #FuqCancer#GoneButSurelyNotForgotten
Tiger Woods: Stuart wasn’t covering heroes & champions, it was the other way around. Thinking of my friend & his daughters.
Samuel L. Jackson: “I had a lot of laughs with Stuart Scott & he was truly one of the Good Guys, beginning to end. RIP on da cool side of the pillow!!”
Danica Patrick: “Mornings like this remind me of how short life can be. Carpe diem and love like there is no tomorrow. Stuart Scott, you will me missed.”
President Obama: “I will miss Stuart Scott. Twenty years ago, Stu helped usher in a new way to talk about our favorite teams and the day’s best plays. For much of those twenty years, public service and campaigns have kept me from my family – but wherever I went, I could flip on the TV and Stu and his colleagues on SportsCenter were there. Over the years, he entertained us, and in the end, he inspired us – with courage and love. Michelle and I offer our thoughts and prayers to his family, friends, and colleagues.”“I will miss Stuart Scott. Twenty years ago, Stu helped usher in a new way to talk about our favorite teams and the day’s best plays. For much of those twenty years, public service and campaigns have kept me from my family – but wherever I went, I could flip on the TV and Stu and his colleagues on SportsCenter were there. Over the years, he entertained us, and in the end, he inspired us – with courage and love. Michelle and I offer our thoughts and prayers to his family, friends, and colleagues.”
R.I.P. Stuart Scott. You lived like a champ and you fought like a boss. Cooler than the other side of the pillow.