by Paul West
I remember Stuart Scott‘s first years on ESPN.
I must admit that I was one of the ppl who thought he tried too hard with his schtick. While I was grateful to see the infusion of hip-hop references and his type of energy into SportsCenter, and it was overdue to see an African-American anchor on the show, I thought he was at times clownish and a caricature of himself. This was an era in which African Americans were still fighting against the long shadows of misrepresentation, caricaturing and monolithic media portrayals (that struggle still continues, albeit in more nuanced form), and mainstream portayals had just begun to broaden and diversify.
But really, he was just a doofy country kid who was geeking out on the stuff that got him geeked, and I came to realize that more and more over time. He gradually became more calibrated, and did a better job of dropping Scott-isms, hip hop lingo and other fare without seeming like the guy who was trying too hard. He did change the game–not just for one skin tone or ethnicity, but for Gen-X future broadcasters and athletes writ large, as the country was still struggling for greater fusion and folks born between the LBJ and Reagan administrations came of age watching him.
Along with his on-air trailblazing, Stuart Scott made enormous ripples even when few were around to see them. Stuart Scott battled cancer tooth and nail, and all the while, he acknowledged the help of every person who made his journey easier–and he remained committed to helping others lighten their loads as well. In his famous acceptance speech of the award inspired by the timeless Jim Valvano, Scott hearkened back to how Jimmy V’s words and energy had inspired him. Stuart Scott really was, if you think about it, a new-day Jimmy V–who, if you think about it, was also over the top and cartoonish at times. But by virtually all accounts, just like Jimmy V, Scott was genuine in who he was, even when silly and over the top. Moreover, his work ethic, his commitment to knowing the games’ intricacies, and his genuine energy shone through just as so many of his eulogizers say.
Stuart Scott was, by a staggeringly wide range of accounts, a kind hearted and genuine and enthusiastic man who lived life with aplomb, loved his kids to death and had a heart of gold. The day of his passing is a sad day in sports.