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Longtime ESPN Sportscaster Stuart Scott Dies At 49


Some other news - not quite everybody knew the name of Stuart Scott, but sports fans who did felt the joy he brought to his job. The ESPN sportscaster died yesterday after fighting cancer. His style changed the way many people talk about sports. Here's NPR's Sam Sanders.

SAM SANDERS, BYLINE: Stuart Scott might be best known, really, for one word.



SANDERS: Boo-yah - he sprinkled it throughout his sportscasts for years, kind of like a really cool exclamation point, but it was more than just boo-yah. On ESPN, Stuart spoke the language of young people, of hip-hop.


SCOTT: Twitter was blowin' up after the game.


SCOTT: Got to drop some knowledge.

SANDERS: And there were his signature catchphrases. Like when a player had done something really great, Scott would say just call him butter 'cause he's on a roll.


SCOTT: Call him butter 'cause he is on a roll.

SANDERS: ESPN colleagues, like Jay Harris, loved this.

JAY HARRIS: We were like hey, that guy just said what we said five minutes ago and he's getting paid for it and we're not.

SANDERS: Harris hosts ESPN's "SportsCenter." He says before he got to ESPN he looked up to Scott, a black man and not just because he sounded and looked like him, but because he was just really good.

HARRIS: He did his homework. He was a consummate journalist and a lot of that gets lost in the - yo, what's up? I'm Stuart Scott, boo-yah, which to me is a bit of a shame.

SANDERS: Stuart Scott was born in Chicago in 1965. He played club football at the University of North Carolina and then covered local news at TV stations throughout the South. Scott joined ESPN2 in 1993. He quickly rose up the ranks, hosting ESPN's flagship shows and interviewing two U.S. presidents. James Andrew Miller is the author of a biography of ESPN, and, he says, when Scott arrived at the cable channel in '93, it was not that diverse.

ANDREW MILLER: It was pretty much a big loaf of Wonder white bread.

SANDERS: But Stuart's success helped make the ESPN of today one of the most diverse newsrooms in the country.

MILLER: Part of that, obviously, was fueled by Stuart's prominence and his excellent and I think that they're not going to give up on that.

SANDERS: In a 2002 interview with NPR's "On The Media," Stuart Scott acknowledged that some people had problems with his style.


SCOTT: I had a black guy call me one time and he said, you know, he didn't appreciate, you know, all you tryin' to do is drag our race down and talk in street slang. You know, we're better than that. All right man, we're better than that. That's not going to make me change what I do and how I do it.

SANDERS: Since 2007, Scott dealt with recurring bouts of cancer. He was known to go to chemotherapy sessions and mixed martial arts classes all in the same week. He even managed to give a speech at the 2014 ESPY Awards this year, not long after a surgery. Scott said dying didn't mean he'd lost to cancer, and then he said this -


SCOTT: Live, fight like hell and when you get too tired to fight then lay down and rest and let somebody else fight for you.

SANDERS: If the outpouring of love for Stuart Scott since his death - from millions of fans and athletes and even President Obama himself - if that's any measure, Stuart Scott will have someone else to fight for him for quite a long time. Sam Sanders, NPR News.

INSKEEP: Boo-yah, it's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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