Craig Sager’s battle with cancer is well documented. Despite being medically cleared to be his usual, delightful self on the sidelines of NBA games back in late 2015, Sager announced that the disease returned in March of his year. The outlook from his doctors wasn’t good, and he was given three to six months to live.
Four months later, and Sager is still fighting like hell. No matter how grim his future looks, Sager is battling the disease as hard as he can. He’s also used his story as a way to inspire others, which was on display when he FaceTimed Pitt running back James Conner, who views Sager as an inspiration. After his own war with Hodgkins Lymphoma, Connor announced he was cancer-free earlier this year.
While he works for Turner, ESPN decided to honor Sager in a few ways this year. Not only did he get to work his first-ever Finals game, but he’s also the recipient of the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance, which he received on Wednesday night’s telecast of the 2016 ESPYs.
Prior to Sager getting the award, which in the past has gone to people like George Karl and the late, great Stuart Scott, he was honored by vice president Joe Biden.
In a moving speech, Biden mentioned his son, Beau, who passed away last year due to brain cancer. Once he started talking about Sager, Biden praised the beloved sideline reporter for his passion and fearlessness in the face of such a terrifying disease.
While Biden’s speech was as passionate as anything that we’ve heard out of the Vice President over the last eight years, all anyone wanted was to hear Sager. We got that after a moving video package which showed, among other things, how Sager wanted to work even though he was going through treatment.
In classic Sager fashion (both figuratively and literally – he wore one of his eye-catching suits), his words were touching and insightful. Most of all, he let us know that while the doctors don’t expect him to make it much longer, he is going to keep fighting.
“I will never give up,” Sager said. “And I will never give in. I will continue to keep fighting, sucking the marrow out of life, as life sucks the marrow out of me. I will live my life full of love and full of fun. It’s the only way I know how.”
Sager also discussed time, and remarked how each day is an opportunity to do something great. Additionally, Sager offered an encouraging word to everyone battling cancer.
“If I’ve learned anything through all of this, it’s that each and every day is a canvas waiting to be painted, an opportunity for love, for fun, for living, for learning,” Sager said. “To those of you out there who are suffering from cancer, facing adversity, I want you to know that your will to live and to fight cancer can make all the difference in the world. The way you think influences the way you feel. And the way you feel determines how you act.”
If this is the last time we see Sager on live television, there’s something beautiful about knowing that he went out in the most Craig Sager way possible. But all of us are wishing that that’s not the case, and when the NBA tips off this fall, we hope to see Sager on the sidelines, asking pointed questions while wearing a silly suit and working hard to make basketball a lot more fun.