Happy 50th Birthday, Stuart Scott
Today marks Stuart Scott’s 50th birthday. Scott was born on July 18, 1965 in Chicago, IL and attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, graduating in the class of 1987. Since I never had the chance to write out my thoughts on Scott after his passing, today feels like the appropriate time to do so.
Stuart Scott’s name is now synonymous with with sports broadcasting, a field that I’ve dreamed of entering since my childhood. I vividly remember waking up on school days and eating my breakfast with ESPN’s SportsCenter on the television. Scott always stood out from the rest of the flagship show’s anchors; he was enthusiastic, lively, funny, charming. Stuart Scott was as cool as the other side of the pillow.
Scott was one of the first broadcasters to ditch a “traditional” style and instead do something unheard of in the news: Be himself. He wasn’t reading scripts to highlights, he was casually talking to the viewers about last night’s game. He brought new catchphrases to television: “Boo-yah” and “As cool as the other side of the pillow” being his most famous.
Stuart Scott inspired me to pursue a career in sports broadcasting, but more importantly, he inspired millions as he valiantly fought cancer. His fight would take him off television for extended periods of time, but his last appearance on camera wasn’t behind a desk; instead, it took place at the 2014 ESPYS when Scott accepted the Jimmy V Perseverance Award:
This speech was touching for so many reasons, most strikingly how Scott emphasized on how others fought for him. It wasn’t him fighting alone; it was Jimmy V, his nurses, his daughters, his girlfriend, his employers. I can’t get through it without tearing up.
Scott was also arguably the proudest public figure to graduate from North Carolina. In a business where objectivity is everything, Scott still found ways to show off that he was, in fact, a Tar Heel:
When Stuart Scott passed away and Hannah Storm, fighting back tears, delivered the horrible news, I cried on my dad’s couch. Despite his condition worsening, it never seemed possible. Scott was too young, too good, too strong to pass. To this day his memoir, “Every Day I Fight,” still sits on my bedside table, unopened. I can’t bring myself to read it. I can’t fathom reading the words of this courageous man, knowing how it ends. I don’t even have the strength to read his story, whereas Scott had the strength to live it.
Stuart Scott lived an extraordinary life. His legacy as a broadcaster and a fighter of cancer continues to inspire anyone who watched him entertain on SportsCenter. He will forever be one of Carolina’s most priceless gems.
Happy birthday, Stu. Catch you on the other side (of the pillow).
Featured Image courtesy of DisneyDena (Creative Commons). ESPYS video courtesy of Anil Prashar. UNC/Duke Highlights via gufccruisers. Vince Carter video courtesy of Swove2204.