Stuart Scott doesn’t know this, nor should he. We’ve never shook hands. He’s never signed an autograph for me. The closest we’ve ever come to meeting is his role on ESPN for the past 20 years of my 27-year life. Stuart Scott doesn’t know this, but he helped raise me.
Maybe it was because Stu is Black. Maybe it was thanks to my uncle in the mid-’90s introducing me to a show called SportsCenter. Maybe because we eventually became members of the same fraternity. Maybe it was because Stu made a living off what I perceived then – and to some degree now – as the greatest job on the planet. Maybe it was because Scott made it cool to get dressed up, talk sports and still use lingo thrown around every weekend at the barbershop to describe Michael Jordan’s latest dunk, or Ken Griffey, Jr.’s wall-climbing catch, or Barry Sanders physics-defying touchdown scamper.
Whatever the case may be, Stuart Scott made talking about sports just as cool as whatever happened in between the lines. And from that point, to this very moment until the day the big open bar in the sky calls me home, I will forever respect and appreciate Stuart Scott. This pseudo-blind worship is the exact reason for the past three weeks I’ve been coping with the reality that was Scott’s recent admission his battle with cancer had returned. The type of cancer is unknown, and truth be told, means little, if anything to me.
Blessed by prayers..I’m back in the Fight. C reared its head again. Chemo evry 2 wks but I’ll still work, still work out..still #LIVESTRONG
— Stuart Scott (@StuartScott) January 15, 2013
Thanks for prayers..ill fight w ALL C survivors & loved ones. Cancer wants to re-appear..picked the right guy cuz I HIT HARD all day long!!
— Stuart Scott (@StuartScott) January 15, 2013
I pride myself on being able to cope with basically any hurdle life tosses, except cancer. Having lost friends and family members to the disease, I’ve somewhat made it my life’s calling to help support the fight. It’s the reason I’m signing up for a 5K in Brooklyn this summer to help support the war against children’s cancer. It’s the reason why I literally drop down on one knee everyday thanking God for sparing my grandmother during her bout with breast cancer.
It’s the reason why the best news I received all year was not what I’d be receiving in tax refunds, but finding my mother’s doctor visit showed no cancerous cells in her body. It’s the reason why each and every person battling the disease receives my unwavering support and prayers. It’s the reason why Chuck Pagano’s locker room speech will forever send chills down my spine. It’s the reason why on rare occasions – maybe once or twice a year – I’ll shed tears when I’m alone thinking about my uncle who passed from cancer in 1999.
And it’s the reason why I took Scott’s announcement so personally. There’s nothing I can do other than express my sympathy for a speedy recovery and say “I hope this doesn’t mess his work schedule up too much” despite him vowing otherwise. Such a statement is selfish, yet it’s the only way to truly mask my fear for the severity of the situation. God willing, I’ll never be forced to stand and look cancer in the eye. Yet, if it is indeed in my life’s plan, attacking it with the same ferocity as Scott is how it will be handled.
“I can take this, deal with it easier than some people I see,” said Scott. “So I think for the ones who can’t punch a heavy bag, can’t spar, who can’t do any of that. I’ll do it for you.”
That’s all I can ask for or hope to hear from someone fighting. Do it for himself, do it for his fans – like me – but in Stu’s case, and most importantly, do it for those two little girls who are his daughters, Taelor and Sydni. There’s still graduations for him to attend, weddings for him to give them away and first borns to become a grandparent for. Despite what cancer can subconsciously cause a person to think, life doesn’t revolve around chemo treatments and marking days off calenders. Life is still about the moments with no timestamps and the people we’re blessed enough to share them with. Cancer can’t change that. It never has and never will.
I say all that to say this. Upon learning of the return of his ailment, Double S confessed, “There have been a lot of people who’ve said I’m courageous. I’m not. I’m scared.” And that’s fine. Being courageous doesn’t mean waltzing through life without fear. Courageous is willing to admit when you’re scared, but persevere regardless of the circumstances involved.
Prayers and well-wishes will continue to be sent out for Stuart Scott and anyone spitting in the face of the disease. And as I reflect on being another year older, another year (hopefully) wiser and another year further and further removed from my youth, I learn holding on to the innocence of your childhood is one of life’s greatest treasures.
So, God bless you, Stu. I’m still that kid who grew up idolizing SportsCenter at heart.