Grant Yanney is a Chicago native grooving in Brooklyn.
Yanney is a journalist, host, media personality and snack lover who’s contributed to the Redeye, Gowhere Hip-Hop, Ebony and The Shadow League.
“Acclaimed ESPN Anchor Stuart Scott succumbs to cancer at 49.”
That headline still doesn’t even sound right.
It’s been a little over a week since the world found out, since I found out that my fellow Chicagoan and legendary ESPN sports anchor Stuart Scott passed. The Michael Jordan of sports journalism is gone.
For every devout hooper who wanted to be like Mike, there was a young media bro who aspired to be like Stu Scott. That was Mr. ESPN — special swank right there! We were proud to see him winning. Anytime you see a black man on television (extra points for being on TV and being positive), you gotta give props, and give props we did. More than that, though, Stuart Scott was something way different.
Scott was the chief reason why I begged my mom to subscribe to ESPN The Magazine. Growing up, I’ve read nearly every “Holla” column and interview I could find from him online. Anybody who has ever read any of my writing should know that I was influenced heavily by Stuart Scott.
While contributing op-ed columns and content for the 5 on 5 sports section for the Chicago Tribune’s RedEye a lot of people inquired as to why I chose to rock a White Sox baseball cap in my column picture …you know I wasn’t tripping. Some would say, “Your face and words are being seen by a lot of people, are you sure you want that to be your first impression?” Indeed! As my inspiration might say, “Don’t hate the playa, hate the game!”
You see, when I watched Stuart Scott he was being himself. That’s all I ever wanted to be in print and beyond, I’ve always wanted to do things on my own terms, just like Brotha Scott did — the same guy who brought his own voice to a network that may not have had it otherwise.
I remember meeting Stuart Scott at a National Association of Black Journalists conference, he was surrounded by a bevy of beautiful women …future Sage Steeles and what not (she may have even been among the bevy herself). Even as he was getting flooded with adulation, Scott observed me waiting and brought me into the circle, he was a swag champ for that. Looking back on that moment, I was grateful to be able to dap him (special fraternal handshake included) and thank him for being a role model. A few years later, like the rest of the world, I would find out Stuart was diagnosed with cancer.
Every time I would see Scott on ESPN looking slimmer from that point on it would make me think back to my grandma who died from colon cancer. I realized the struggle we saw him going through was something that many of us were familiar with: a gruesome bout with cancer, the kind affecting hundreds of thousands of valiant people daily, taking the lives of many loved ones, people that we all know, stand up dudes like Stuart Scott.
Stu Scott’s fate was cruel but suiting of him — no matter at what point you began to watch him consistently you felt like you really knew the guy before long, he was the entire sports world’s Soul Brother #1.
Not only was the man super intelligent, but he had an agile mind. Scott could read masterfully from a TelePrompter and make it look like he was freestyling off script like a pre-Blueprint Jay-Z. Then again, you would never question what he did, the man was that good. Scott exercised grace when asking the tough questions and that he bothered to ask them when he could have breezed through any encounter off his cool factor told you what you needed to know about what it meant for him to practice journalism.
The guy pulled it– when I say Scott pulled it, I mean he was effectively able to convey both ideas and messages that he felt strongly about and spread it out to the masses in ways not seen before him. Watching him effortlessly intersperse Ice Cube lyrics and other hip-hop references like Slick Rick ad-libs from “La Di Da Di” into a sports highlight reel was truly something to watch. Stuart Scott was the conduit connecting Bristol, Conn. to Compton, Calif., it was the work of legends.
Permeating sports and pop culture in a way that put him in a league of his own, Stuart Scott was educated and black. Fearless. Dynamic. Humble. Confident and proud. The things Scott loved he wasn’t afraid to showcase, from hip-hop to his beloved daughters he never tried to hide what moved him. And more valiantly, in regards to his cancer, he always spoke about grit and having a bullet-proof resolve.
And oh did he live, both before and during his grueling seven-year stretch of cancer treatment! He effectively used his voice in his most trying times to get out his message of fighting against it and putting more money and resources into programs and efforts designed to stave off cancer’s effect on society. I’m glad that I was able to witness Stu Scott’s greatness because people like him don’t come around often.
Today, it’s safe to say the whole world is familiar with its World Wide Leader in Sports. ESPN is sports broadcasting’s abominable snowman, but its way too icy to melt. In fact, its the igloo that Stu built. Perhaps he was just a thermodynamic kind of guy, that’s why he always made sure we kept it “cool like the other side of the pillow.” More than a catchphrase, that phrase was a way of life for Stuart Scott.
And now with his life done on earth, he still lives on. He resides in the history books just like the world class athletes he reported on. He impacted millions to where he’ll always be with us. If you took the time to read this do me a favor and live your life to the fullest. It’s no excuse or a reason why you shouldn’t. Every human has that potential to be great and effect the lives of others no matter what they might be going through.
Trust me, I have friends being tested with real issues and they still persevere. When cancer presents itself at large as it did in taking out Stuart Scott, we’re reminded of our very own mortality. It’s so much you can do in one day, so go forth and do it! Be blessed that you have good health. Not everyone is as fortunate.
We were lucky to have witnessed Stuart Scott’s greatness, I know I consider myself as such. Stuart Scott gave us a glimpse of what legendary looks like so his legend will never die. So until we meet again, stay cool up there, dawg.
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