Stuart Scott was every bit an icon as the great voices we hear over and over in sports. He was one of the few journalists that could keep the focus on the story while still injecting a bit of himself. He was colorful, reflecting, intelligent and classy. His death came as a surprise despite his obvious ailment. Today, I reflect…
I realized not long ago that I was entering a new era of my life. Gone were the days of seemingly every friend graduating college. Most friends were married and had started a family. Business minded friends had been with their respective companies for years. While there was always news in the lives of my friends to the contrary, the era of my life dominated by these type of life events had passed.
Suddenly, it was replaced by a drastically more depressing time. I lost a former classmate. His family lost their father. I watched as numerous friends buried parents, grandparents and loved ones. My life was suddenly dominated by death all around me. Some were long-lived lives that simply came to an end. Some were sick, consumed by cancer or other fatal diseases, and had simply grown tired of the fight.
It was not isolated to personal connections, however. Some of the men that I grew up watching, seemingly larger than life, were leaving this earth as well. Jack Buck was gone, Darryl Kile followed. Recently it was Tony Gwynn. It was Kirby Puckett. Slowly the men that I grew up watching were becoming old. Some were just too tired to continue on with life.
I have said before that there are voices the provide a soundtrack to my life. I grew up in the St. Louis area and was fortunate enough to hear the voices of Jack Buck, Joe Buck, Mike Shannon and Bob Carpenter call the action that I would remember fondly as I grew older. The iconic moments that I watched live would also be complimented by Bob Costas, Vin Scully and many other legendary sportscasters on the national stage.
What’s truly interesting to me is that, if you truly remember sports in the 1990’s and early 2000’s, there were many moments that you did not catch live. Indeed, highlights of the games for the night before were often how we consumed our sports. Every morning an hour of SportsCenter would bring you up to speed on everything from the night before.
There were many voices that came out of that show that were suddenly a part of that soundtrack of my life. None of them were quite as dominant as Stuart Scott. His exclamation of “Booyah!” was the perfect addition to a big play. He would remind you that a player was “as cool as the other side of the pillow” and would remind you to simply call that player “butter, because he’s on a roll”. Bloopers of easy catches dropped now came with a translation of the player’s internal monologue trying to explain that “w-wh-what had happened was”. He brought every highlight to life in a new way and gave every play the attention it deserved.
As the years went by, Scott became much more than just a SportsCenter anchor. He grew to be the tried-and-true veteran of ESPN. He worked with numerous other talents and you could see the respect that he gave and received. As his fight with cancer turned public, he became a symbol of hope. Unlike many that struggled through the fight, he continued to work consistently as he received treatments and surgeries.
His speech at this past year’s ESPY awards now lives as a calling card to the man. A brief glimpse inside the way he approached his life, his disease and his career. He proved to be an inspiration. He showed his selflessness. He stood strong, even when he was not.
Today, the world said goodbye to one of the best sportscasters of a generation. A family said goodbye to a loved one. Colleagues and others said goodbye to a friend.
For me, someone I looked up to was taken away by the monster that is cancer. But cancer cannot take away the soundtrack that he provided in my life. His voice, his iconic phrases and his passion for sports will live on.
Ironically, he was probably the guy that I truly felt was “cooler than the other side of the pillow”. I’m thankful that he gave so much of himself to become a part of all of our lives.
Heaven just received another angelic voice.