By SCOTT KAPLAN
I woke up Sunday morning, Twitter was buzzing about the death of ESPN “SportsCenter” anchor/personality, Stuart Scott.
That news hit me hard. I had met Stuart several times, and at one time he was a semi regular guest on “The Scott and BR Show,” but I didn’t really know him.
We weren’t friends, but I felt like I knew him.
I turned on ESPN, and clearly it knew this was coming, and coming soon, because it was prepared. It’s not as if it hustled up and interviewed all of his friends and colleagues at ESPN — the content was ready to go.
In listening to the executives at ESPN talk about Stu, you realize he became bigger than being just another sportscaster.
Stuart Scott gave black America, hip-hop America, a voice it previously did not have. There may have been other African-American broadcasters, but none of them became a cultural icon by reading sports highlights.
Stuart Scott was able to do just that, because he played with no fear of failure. According to those who knew him from the inside at ESPN, when they suggested he tone down his ‘act’, Scott refused.
Not because he was some rebel. Rather he knew who he was, and whom he wanted to represent.
I remember the early days of Stuart on ESPN, and thinking, who is this guy screaming BooYAH? I remember thinking, tone down the brother routine, but it was no act.
Stuart brought his real life experience to the set, and eventually, it grew not only on me, but sports fans everywhere.
Ultimately, as a viewer, I waited for the catch phrases, wanted them!
Yet, I never thought, until now, until his death, just how impactful Stuart Scott was in the sports and television business.
Athletes from all walks of life, black and white, college and pro, celebrated Stuart Scott this week. Because calling highlights wasn’t his legacy, it was giving a voice to a new generation. It was holding true to who he was, and representing his community, which clearly did not have a voice at the time, in a predominantly white-and-up-tight business.
The news of Stu Scott’s death hit me hard. Because he was only 49 years old, he loved his kids with all of his heart, and he battled till the end. I suppose in death, perhaps more so than in life, I felt very connected to the real person he was.
I went through the Scott and BR archives, and found this interview with Stuart from 2010, when we spent time talking daughters, soccer, our favorite show at the time “Dexter” and lots of other stuff. If you were moved this week, you will enjoy.