Remembering Stu... Revisited

When you die, it does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner in which you live.
— Stuart Scott

My world was rocked November 19th, 2017. A phone call I nearly passed on by my sister, I decided to take anyway...

"Mama passed."

I sat in my room, a three-hour drive from home, frozen. My mother died of breast cancer 53 years young.

During the grieving process, you cry, you spend time with family, you find ways to keep their memory alive. So when we announced this little venture a month back, I told myself this is my last year bein broke.

I left home to chase a dream, and a month later my mother learned she had breast cancer. 12 months later she transitioned. I took it hard that I wasn't there when she died, and while I learned not to blame myself or anyone for the way things happened, I remembered the inspiration that helped me get this far.

Stuart Scott is as responsible as any role model, teacher or mentor for my chosen career path. I never met him. I didn't need to. He felt like family every time he entered my home, with a boo-yah and his cool pillow in tow.

I watched his ESPY speech the night after her funeral and it hit me. Having gone through a weekend of testimony from family, some of my mother's oldest friends, or just people who knew my mom, I realized she hadn't lost to cancer... She beat its ass with all the love she gave to the world, until she got so tired God said it was time to throw in the towel.

Thanks Stu, for reminding me that my mother didn't lose. And thanks for the best advice you ever gave me...

So in honor of the three-year anniversary of Stu's passing, I'm re-posting a blog from two years ago remembering him. You can read it in its original form here.

I was 4 years old the first time I can remember watching Sportscenter. My dad leaving the television on in the dead of night because it was the only way I could sleep, I typically found a soporific feeling in shows like The Tonight Show with Jay Leno or The George Michael Sports Machine. But on Sunday nights I was an insomniac. Try as I might I couldn’t feel drowsy nor weary, because every Sunday night I tuned into ESPN, and the vitality permeating from the ebullient brother with the limitless catchphrases and an intimacy for sports always seemed to flow through me.

I love Stuart Scott. As far back as I could think, he was the first black man I idolized. Chicago’s Very Own, Stu entered my life at a very impressionable age. As a child televised news was nothing but uncharismatic men who looked nothing like me, and spoke nothing like me. It was a bland, monotonous product. And then, BOO-YAH, there he came..

He was a burst of energy to a product that demanded it. There was never a moment or a highlight that Stu could not breathe life into. With his youthful exuberance and outward blackness, he brought the barbershop to the mainstream. Conformists hated it. An exec even threatened to remove Scott from Sportscenter because he was using language that “most of the audience didn’t understand.” Always the writer, Stu took to his online column and graciously thanked ESPN for allowing him to be….himself. He traced back the cultural history of his many phrases and explained why it was paramount not only to him, but to his people, most of them ESPN viewers, that his vernacular was utilized on the Worldwide Leader. With a couple strokes of a keyboard, Stuart Scott stood up for himself, refusing to change who he was as a man, as a black man, and won.

As I grew older, so did my fondness for sports, and there was Stuart, like Cupid, shooting his arrow into my heart every night. His mixture of athletics and hip hop flair coalesced perfectly, reaching a younger demographic like myself who otherwise wouldn’t have understood the obscure references from a Chris Berman or the like. He was counter-culture, and not for lack of a better term, as cool as the other side of the pillow. He made being black on television au courant. Sportscenter was my church, and Stuart led the congregation better than any pastor could.

When I heard Stuart Scott was first afflicted with cancer back in 2007, my heart dropped. A sports world without Stuart was something I couldn’t imagine. But seeing him on television, fighting through a highlight with seemingly relative ease, you would never notice he was sick. Once the red light flashed, it was game time. He was MJ in the Finals, Game 5, and as usual, he was automatic.

His cancer returned in 2011, and again in 2013, but through it all Stuart fought back to do what he loved: telling eloquent stories on the day in sports. But what Stuart loved the most, what kept him fighting, was his two daughters, Sydni and Taelor. They were his reason for living, his motivation to keep kicking cancer’s ass. And until the end, when he couldn’t fight any longer, they fought for him. The love of a father and his children.

It’s been a year since Stuart Scott has passed away, and not a day has gone by where I haven’t missed that man’s revolutionary ardor on my TV screen. Although he is gone in the physical, his spirit still lives on in the young athletes who wanted him to holla at a playa when he saw them in the street, and the aspiring black journalists that emulated him. Including myself.

I’m not big on Twitter responses from celebrities, except this one. Normally I’m firing off b.s. in the mentions of celebs, but this was my chance to openly ask for advice from the man I’ve admired since I was 4 years old.

and I will. To keep your legacy, and ours, alive.