LOS ANGELES — If you don’t know who Stuart Scott was, those who do will likely point you to one particular speech to share why his death reverberates so strongly across the country.
The 49-year-old was a veteran anchor on ESPN, but his eloquent observations on his battle with cancer and the encouragement and motivation to others fighting the disease made him a role model.
“When you die, that does not mean you lose to cancer,” Scott said in the July speech at the ESPY Awards. “You beat cancer by how you live, why you live and the manner in which you live.”
It is a line that anyone who has lost a loved one to cancer can take comfort in, and one being repeated much on Sunday, following Scott’s death.
Scott was accepting the Jimmy V Perseverance Award at the ESPYs, and honored the award’s namesake — college basketball coach and broadcaster Jim Valvano — by reflecting on Valvano’s own speech in 1993.
“I listened to what Jim Valvano said 21 years ago, the most poignant seven words ever uttered in any speech anywhere: ‘Don’t give up. Never give up,'” Scott said. “I’m not special; I just listen to what the man said. I listen to all that he said, everything that he asked of us.”
Scott was diagnosed with stomach cancer in 2007.
During that speech, Scott spoke of counting on others for help, and the comfort of family members, even if only to cry with them on the phone.
His message was this: “So live, live. Fight like hell.”
Rich Eisen, a sportscaster for NFL Network who was previously Scott’s SportsCenter partner at ESPN, asked for prayers for Scott’s family during an emotional segment Sunday.
“He battled cancer as bravely as anybody else, and I know there many people out there who are battling cancer right now,” Eisen said. “Stuart would want you to know to keep fighting.”
His ESPN colleagues likewise honored him on air.
“Our colleague, our friend, and our inspiration Stuart Scott passed away earlier today,” ESPN’s Hannah Storm said.