Stuart Scott, longtime ESPN SportsCenter anchor and a pioneering force in the field of sportscasting, passed away Sunday morning after a long battle with cancer, ESPN reports. He was 49. “ESPN and everyone in the sports world have lost a true friend and a uniquely inspirational figure in Stuart Scott,” ESPN president John Skipper said. “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.”
After joining ESPN2 in 1993, Scott quickly became one of the network’s most respected and recognizable personalities. As the co-anchor of SportsCenter, where Scott formed a must-watch duo with both Rich Eisen (who shared a moving tribute to Scott) and Steve Levy, Scott coined phrases like “Booyah!” and “Cool as the other side of the pillow” that transcended the world of sports. As a sports journalist, Scott also wrote pieces for ESPN The Magazine and interviewed subjects as diverse as Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.
Scott also displayed a masterful talent for weaving hip-hop lyrics and references into sports highlights on an almost-nightly basis (“Wow! That was as hardcore as the Wu-Tang Clan on steroids,” Scott would say.) “You’ve got to be true to who you are and what you do,” Scott told XXL (via New York Times). “I’m more of a hip-hop feel person. Music is how you feel. The younger the mind, that’s how I want to be.”
Scott appeared in music videos for LL Cool J and Luke, and he was frequently referenced in rap lyrics, most notably Lil Wayne’s “3 Peat,” the Times notes. Nicki Minaj posted her condolences to Scott on her Instagram soon after it was revealed that the anchor had passed away. Similar tweets followed from rappers like Fabolous, Lloyd Banks, Bun B, Freddie Gibbs, Ludacris and the Maybach Music Grouo.
“RIP. It was a pleasure knowing you,” Snoop Dogg wrote in an Instagram tribute to the SportsCenter anchor. Public Enemy’s Chuck D tweeted, “Stu Scott’s passing hit me like a ton of bricks. Rest in Peace bro you pioneered that coolest side of that sportscasting pillow.”
Scott was first diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in November 2007. In the years that followed, the cancer would fluctuate between remission and reemergence. In July 2014, when Scott was awarded the Jimmy V Perseverance Award at the 2014 ESPYs, he revealed that he had undergone four surgeries in the previous week.
“I also realized something else recently,” Scott said in his acceptance speech. “I said, ‘I’m not losing. I’m still here. I’m fighting. I’m not losing.’ But I’ve got to amend that. When you die, that does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and the manner in which you live. So live. Live. Fight like hell.”
Scott is survived by his two daughters Taelor and Sydni, his companion Kristin Spodobalski, his parents and three siblings. Scott’s family asks that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the V Foundation.