A lot of folks have been asking me to comment on the passing of the great Stuart Scott this past week, and I have reluctantly not posted anything – mainly because I didn’t want to do what the typical selfish web-obsessed person does when somebody they met once in an elevator passes away – Make every death about themselves. (Example – Joe Cocker passed away and suddenly every “dear friend” of Joe’s posted a picture of them together in a grocery store ten years earlier)…
This post is about the wonderful mentoring and brief friendship Stuart Scott offered not only myself, but a handful of other hopeful ESPN announcers in the winter of 2004…
I will keep this brief – because Mike Hall and Nick Stevens eloquently put their thoughts down on Instagram and Facebook and really said all that needed to be said, but here is my greatest memory of my three months with Stuart Scott.
At the time of the contest, a lot of ESPN anchors scoffed at “Dream Job.” They felt like we were spoiled inexperienced little bastards who were going to land a job they had been working towards their entire lives. Not EVERYBODY felt this way, but it was obvious around the set who did. Stuart didn’t care. He was all for this. He braced us, supported and encouraged us to be better than the haters, to thrive when give that one shot on live television to make our careers happen. He compared it to Eminem rapping “You only get one shot do NOT lose your chance…” on the song “Lose Yourself.” He knew the position we were in and when we all arrived on set, he made us feel comfortable, capable and worthy.
He threw us trivia questions. He asked to borrow our catch phrases for that week’s SportsCenter… (My phrase “Dwayne Wade dropped 80 cents on the floor tonight – that’s 8 dimes for those of you who are bad at math” made an 11pm broadcast in March 2004 from the lips of Stuart) – and he followed up with us over the years. He was that nice of a guy. Now that I am ten years into a career that started at ESPN – a career that Stuart Scott was such a huge part of jump-starting – I can only thank him for the brief moments we shared together on the planet.
Posted above is a clipping from the Jermaine O’Neal issue of ESPN The Magazine in March 2004 – when Stuart commented on the results of the show. His professionalism always stood out. And yes, Stuart, someday we will make that rap album together.
-ZS January 6, 2015