A Bear Hug and Fist Pound for Stuart Scott

(John Shearer/Invsion/AP)

The innovative Stuart Scott sparked the minds of many aspiring media heads — including yours truly.

For two decades, Stuart Scott kick started my mornings with enough “Boo-Yows” to get me through the day. His style and charisma changed an industry unable and in some cases unwilling to change with the times.

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” — Anais Nin

The night Stuart Scott gave his ESPY speech, I thought to myself, “One day I’m going to have to write a tribute for this man.” Despite words as valiant as I’ve ever heard, I knew Stu was telling us good-bye. I heard those words from my father in 1992 and from my brother in 2007. It’s not giving up, but more like facing your mortality. My son and I sat there watching and it didn’t hit me until he began to talk about his two daughters Sydni and Taelor that one day I’m going to have to leave the one person I love more than anything in this world.

That’s more than unfair to all the parties involved. We always say parents shouldn’t have to bury their children. I’ll tell anyone that watching my father’s casket being lowered into the ground knowing there were no more answers is no walk through the park either.

Stuart Scott battled cancer three times and came back. In a sports sense, my mind goes to the Buffalo Bills defeating the Houston Oilers in the 1993 NFL Playoffs, the Jordan flu game in 1997 and the Boston Red Sox coming back from a 3-0 deficit in the 2004 ALCS. I’d like to think in some small way the legendary men and women Scott covered rubbed off tremendously on him — further enhancing his quality of life.

Stuart Scott burst into my sports conscience while I was a sophomore at Knoxville College. Cable television was a valued luxury being away from home, but I was unable to see Philly sports for the most part. Thankfully, ESPN was national and updates and highlights kept me sane.

Not only was Scott’s presence and style unlike anything I had seen or heard — it was comforting. I was 700 miles from home, going through some culture shock on top of missing daily sports chatter with my boys. Unbeknownst to me, the man who gave the broadcast room a barber shop-like setting would become a titan for a generation of aspiring journalists and reporters.

Scott in a figurative and literal sense brought color to an industry in dire need of a spark. Sports in America was moving into a new era of big contracts, big endorsements and big exposure, but the game was in need of a voice for the Generation X’ers who were more likely to flip on ESPN than take a trip to the newsstand.

ESPN on most night’s was a colorful event, but when Stuart Scott was in the house, all sights and sounds transformed into HD. Words and phrases of the day like “Boo-Yow” and “Hater” became the norm in a Scott anchored segment. When you think about it, Stuart Scott was long over due in sports journalism. Crushing hits, home runs, posterizing dunks and slap-shot goals deserved to be celebrated the way we paid homage in the school yard or at the water cooler the day after a game. Scott’s boyhood enthusiasm never wavered and in the process, he schooled an entire industry.

Stuart Scott inspired me to be true to myself as a writer. I never studied journalism in college, I never worked for a lengthy time at any newspaper, I’m just a guy from North Philly who loves sports and has a way with words — who knew he wanted a piece of the pie — but I didn’t want to conform to the cookie-cutter approach. Scott’s delivery was different, it was new and it came with detractors in the beginning when some considered his vernacular “street” and in the end when his now legendary and oft-imitated style didn’t have the same shock value as in 1993. Like most innovators have learned there will be antagonists to the movement, but it’s called a movement for a reason. Mobility, Motion and Motivation was Stu kept it moving for as long as he could.

No one interviews like Ed Bradley anymore, no one writes like Ralph Wiley anymore and no one will deliver sports the way Stuart Scott did. The social media galaxy is full of stars made possible from Scott’s sonic boom two decade ago. Who’s turn is it to shine?

Thank you Stu, I’ll turn to the cool side of the pillow and I’m hoping it dries at some point.

 

2 Responses to “A Bear Hug and Fist Pound for Stuart Scott”

  1. DN says:

    Wow. Ron this is another great one like the one for your father and a few others of my favorites. Beautifully and tenderly said. Thank you!

  2. What Dez said Ron. Excellent.