My mother used to tell me that, as a child, all I needed growing up was Cheerios and SportsCenter and I was happy. I was simple to please then, and I think that I’m still pretty easy to please now, at the age of 25. When people asked me what I wanted to be, I always said that I wanted to be a SportsCenter anchor. If I can ever find the final edition of The Rambling Raider, my high school paper, there’s a blurb in there asking us (seniors) where we wanted to be in 10 years. I said, “SportsCenter.”
I wanted to be an anchor for the Worldwide Leader in Sports’ flagship program because of its flamboyant lead anchor Stuart Scott, who passed away today at the age of 49 after a seven-year battle with cancer. I was driving in my car when I heard the news, and, as I write this, I am sitting in the pressroom of Madison Square Garden, living out part of my dream of covering sports as a profession. I’m not going to pretend that Scott was the man I idolized to be, but he did play a small part in shaping the journalist I am today.
Like Scott, I believe that there is a way to do your job professionally, while adding your own flair and character to make you stand out from the crowd. Scott’s signature was an emphatic “Boo-yah!” during sports highlights. I still have years to develop a trademark trait, but for now, it’s looking like my knowledge of almost every 1950s and 1960s song that plays at the Westchester County Center.
There must be thousands of aspiring sports journalists in their 20s who got into the business partially, or mainly because of Scott. There was something about him that was magnetic; he grabbed your attention and was able to keep it for hours with ease. I never met Scott, but it was evident that he loved his job; and for a group of 20-somethings who were told, “Do something you love and you’ll never work a day in your life,” Scott was living proof of that.
In recent years, it became clear that Scott’s health was deteriorating. On July 16, 2014, Scott was honored with the Jimmy V Perseverance Award and delivered one of the most inspiring, touching speeches since Jim Valvano, the man whom the award is named after, in 1993. In his speech Scott said that he was motivated to continue his fight by living “the most poignant seven words ever uttered in any speech, anywhere” from Valvano: “Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.”
Scott reminded us all that on July 16. No matter what our situation may be — poverty, debt, bad health, etc. — we must fight and persevere through it. Even if our situations aren’t bad, and it’s just added motivation to keep pursuing our goals, Scott reminded us that if we don’t continue to fight, we will lose. So don’t give up, don’t ever give up.
On behalf of the thousands of sports journalists’ careers you helped spawn and the millions of people you’ve inspired throughout the world through your words and your work, thank you, Stuart Scott.