SBJ/August 22-28, 2011/People and Pop Culture

Foundation honoree Scott heeds Valvano’s call

ESPN anchor Stuart Scott has been the source for some of the most recognizable sayings on “SportsCenter,” including “as cool as the other side of the pillow.” But there’s another saying that drives him these days: “Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.” Those words from Jim Valvano have become the mantra for The V Foundation, which has raised more than $100 million for cancer research since it was formed in 1993.

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ESPN anchor Stuart Scott will be recognized with the Spirit of Jimmy V award Saturday.
On Saturday, The V Foundation will honor Scott with the 2011 Spirit of Jimmy V, an award given annually to someone for courageously battling cancer. Scott is in the midst of his second bout with the disease. The first time, three years ago, he survived cancer in his appendix, but earlier this year Scott was diagnosed with cancer in his stomach, which led to the removal of his small intestine, and he’s in the process of receiving 12 scheduled chemotherapy treatments. Scott talked recently with SportsBusiness Journal staff writer Michael Smith about maintaining a positive attitude, his introduction to Twitter and his two daughters.

What will it mean for you to receive this award?

SCOTT: It’s always important to honor the honor. To get honored for something, you should honor what you’re being honored for, and that means living up to the ideals of what the award is about. This award embodies perseverance, a positive
STUART SCOTT:

Age: 46

Alma mater: North Carolina, B.A., speech communications and radio/TV/motion pictures

At ESPN: 18 years

Dream job: I’m doing it now. You know, it’s funny, the thought of my dream job hasn’t crossed my mind in years. To me, a dream job signals that this is the ultimate, and being a father is the ultimate.

Favorite vacation: Paris is one of my favorite places. Nantucket. Maui. I can’t pick just one. Any place warm with a quiet beach.

Last movie you saw: “Horrible Bosses.” I’m a big movie guy. I’ll go see a movie by myself all the time. There are these places — New England has one; Pittsburgh; Tampa, they’ve got one — where you go to the movies, sit in big huge leather seat and order dinner. That’s great.

Sports executive you most admire: (ESPN President) George Bodenheimer, and not just because he’s my boss, but there’s nothing about him that smacks of a traditional or stereotypical sports executive. He worked his way up from the mailroom and he’s still got that mailroom humility.

attitude and, even in the face of something hard, being positive and strong. People say things to me that are very kind about being so positive and “How do you do it?” It’s not that difficult. I don’t think I’m doing anything special. I’ve got two daughters; I don’t have a choice. I have got to be positive and strong and upbeat because of them. I’m going to be around and I’m not going anywhere. It’s not something where I’m going to sit around and mope about it. I’m going to live like we always have. I’m going to work out, sing, have fun, go train mixed martial arts, and tell my girls that any boy that messes with you, I’m going to take him out. … All I’ve done is listen to Jim Valvano. Not making this up. “Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.” I’m not doing anything but paying attention to what he said. Trying to honor the honor. … I have moments of “This sucks,” but what do you do with those moments? If I start moping around, I’m not honoring my daughters. There are times that it’s hard, but I’m going to do it anyway.

Have you thought about what you’re going to say when you receive the award?

SCOTT: I’m not going to write a big speech. I’m just going to say what I feel. My daughters will be there, my parents will be there. I was born a Cancer, in July, and we’re emotional people. I’ll try to get through it without being emotional, but I’m sure I won’t be able to do that.

In what ways have you tried to be an advocate for people fighting cancer?

SCOTT: Just word of mouth, talking to people, expressing a positive attitude and not trying to fake it, being honest. … The biggest thing I’ve done is Twitter, and I’m not a social media person. I’ve always been “Who cares?” I know nothing about Facebook. But last year, a few people helped me understand why Twitter might be important now. It’s a way to report and communicate, and I saw a value in it. … Once I started this fight, I decided to do Twitter and make it worthwhile. I’ve spent a lot of time on Twitter being open and frank about what I’m going through. I tweet while I’m going through chemo, about how crappy it makes me feel. I actually did a pee count one time. You’ve got all this fluid going into you, and “now I’m going to pee for the seventh time.” The reason I do that is because this battle in a lot of ways makes you feel weird and alone. But truthfully, so many people really do understand it, personally or through a loved one. I know it helps. It’s an inspiration to a lot of people to see me deal with it, talk about it. … The first thing I do when I get back from chemo is work out. I get inspired by other tweets talking about “My mother, my brother, my cousin, is going through this. I appreciate your fight.” So I go train spar, do P90X. It’s a strength that comes from people who talk to me. It makes me feel like, if I don’t work out, I’m not living up to what I want to live up to. … There’s one tweet that really stands out for me. A guy tweeted that his 92-year-old father was diagnosed with cancer. If you’re 92, you’re not doing chemo or radiation, you’re checking out. But this guy said his father decided to do chemo because of his grandson. I think about that a lot. If this dude has the stones to do that, I’m 46, what excuse do I have?

What is the latest on your health?

SCOTT: I’m 10 treatments into a 12-treatment round this time. I go every other week. When I was diagnosed, I had a couple of tumors and they took them out. The doctors say they’re gone, but most people have tiny pieces of the disease left behind, so you do the chemo and hope it kills them all. Oncologists are often vague. They’re not trying to be, they just don’t know. I pray I’ll be disease-free, but it could re-occur. As of now, though, it has not spread.

How busy will you be this fall on ESPN?

SCOTT: Same thing I’ve been doing for years. I will anchor our “SportsCenter” coverage of “Monday Night Football” from the road. I’ll be back to “SportsCenter” probably on Wednesday nights. And let’s keep our fingers crossed that we have an NBA season. In late October, I’ll be lead host for our NBA coverage on Wednesday nights and some Friday nights. I’m going to work.

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