Sports reporting on ESPN during the 1990s consisted of getting daily score updates, news, and gossip by predominantly white sportscasters. Although ESPN had few African American sportscasters, one changed the game of sports reporting and that man was Stuart Scott. Scott was born in Chicago, Illinois but grew up in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He grew up around sports and attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he played wide receiver and defensive back. Stuart Scott graduated from UNC at Chapel Hill in 1987 with a Speech Communication, BA.
After graduation, Scott worked for many local news stations as a news reporter but finally got his big break in 1993 when he joined the newly launched ESPN 2. ESPN 2 wanted to appeal to a younger audience and Scott brought a style that was fitting for a younger audience: a hip-hop style of reporting with the excitement of a fan watching their sport. Scott was quickly worked up the ranks as he was assigned to “SportsSmash” then ESPN’s “SportsCenter.” As a regular on SportsCenter with the likes of Rich Eisen and Steve Levy, Stuart Scott continued to expand his role with ESPN by being the studio host of the NBA on ESPN, coverage of the NBA Finals, Monday Night Countdown, MLB playoffs, and the NCAA Final Four. During the 2008 presidential campaign, Scott interviewed and played one-on-one basketball with soon to be elected President Barack Obama.
Stuart Scott’s style of sports reporting was unlike anyone else. His ability to combine hip-hop culture with sport was new to sports reporting and ESPN. People criticized Scott’s style of reporting and according to a a piece in USA Today in 2003, fans expressed their love and hate for his style. However, Scott continued to use hip-hop culture and is famous for his many catchphrases he used throughout his career. Those catchphrases included…
- As cool as the other side of the pillow
- He must be the bus driver cuz he was takin’ him to school
In 2007 after having an appendectomy, Scott learned that he had cancer. That did not stop Scott from working as he continued to host the NBA on ESPN. In 2011 and 2013, Scott’s cancer returned and he under went chemotherapy. At the 2014 ESPY Awards on July 16, 2014, Scott was honored with the Jimmy V Award for his courage with his battle against cancer. During his speech Scott said “You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner in which you live.”
On January 4, 2015, Stuart Scott lost his battle to cancer at the age of 49. His ESPN family honored him as they shared their memories of Scott. Stuart Scott will be remembered for how he changed the way sportscaster reported sports.