If Stuart Scott, the trailblazing ESPN anchor who died this morning after a seven year battle with cancer, had a theme song for his life, it would've been Frank Sinatra's My Way.
That's because Scott, gone way too soon at age 49, always lived life on his terms in front of the camera. He wasn't a stiff corporate suit on air, like many black TV anchors believed they needed to be to succeed.
Scott, always comfortable in his own skin, brought a decidedly edgy and funky hip-hop flavor to ESPN when he joined the network in 1993. He talked like the guys did in the barbershop, in the bars, in their homes while watching a game. Scott routinely spouted memorable catch phrases ("Boo-Yah!" "cool as the other side of the pillow" "holla at a playa when you see him on the street") like they were sports scores and he was a platinum-selling rap star.
The brash style made Scott a must-see (not with everyone, however) and gave him instant street cred in the industry and in locker rooms. On NFL Countdown this morning, Cris Carter said while he was playing, he always gave Scott more information than he did to other reporters because Scott was one of his favorites. That's called respect. Scott never felt the need to speak the perfect King's English, although he could. That wasn't him. There were too many bland TV sports anchors doing that already.
Clearly, Scott wanted to carve his own, distinctive niche so his voice wouldn't be lost in the 5,000 TV channel universe. He succeeded. You could make a strong case that after Chris Berman, Scott was the second face of ESPN.
Like Sinatra so eloquently sang many years ago on his signature song, "For what is a man, what has he got? If not himself, then he has naught. To say the things he truly feels and not the words of one who kneels. The record shows I took the blows and did it my way"
That was, and always will be, Stuart Scott.
Sunday, January 4, 2015
Stuart Scott: The ESPN anchor who always did it his way
Kevin D. Thompson writes news stories and features on Lake Worth and Greenacres for The Palm Beach Post. He has more than 30 years of newspaper and magazine experience as a writer, editor, reporter and blogger. Kevin joined the Post in January 1996 as an entertainment writer. He was the paper's television critic for 12 years (1996-2008) and theater critic for one (2008-2009). He also covered higher education and the Palm Beach County School District. Before joining The Palm Beach Post, Kevin covered entertainment extensively and wrote celebrity profiles for such newspapers and magazines as the New York Daily News, the New York Post and Essence while working as a freelance writer.