Last summer, on the morning of the Espys while hanging with my brother and a friend, I saw Stuart Scott walking through the hotel lobby. I had just seen him at the Finals a month prior. Knowing all that he had been through, I didn’t want to be a fanboy or bother him for a picture. Plus as this was a place crawling with media, there were people everywhere. All I said was “always been a big fan, thank you for what you’ve done for guys like me in this business”. He didn’t know me from Craig at the barbershop. Yet I felt like I knew him.
I’d grown up watching Stuart Scott. Like many black men on television at that time, he was symbolic of what you could do if you worked at your craft. Stuart Scott made sports journalism fun. He made it cool. It became sports/entertainment once he came on screen. His flair with words were unparallel. What I loved the most about him was that he stayed true to who Stuart Scott was.
So many times, we associate winning over mainstream society by being a prolific code-switcher. Scott didn’t abandon who he was as an individual to pander to ESPN’s audience at that time. In fact, he had the opposite effect. Scott brought in a new demographic because of his authenticity. He was that cool ass uncle we all have; young, current, knowledgeable, and able to connect. No matter who was partnered with him at the news desk, Scott’s personality came across as being just one of us.
Stuart Scott is the reason why guys like Jalen Rose can be on ESPN during primetime hours. There’s beauty in being able to be great at something you love while still being unapologetically you. I was thankful to see a black man on television every day being nothing but a black man; with all the style that comes with it.
I pray for the Scott family, for all of the anchors at ESPN, for all the players who were privileged to spend time with Stuart before they were interviewed, and for Tarheels Nation.
And for those who are still fighting cancer – know that your strength is inspiring someone, somewhere to not give up.