If there’s one lesson to be learned from New Year’s Eve, it’s this: Life is short. Not everyone who rang in 2015 a few days ago will be around when 2016 rolls around. When the seconds count down and the fireworks go off and everyone sings “Auld Lang Syne,” nobody can ever say for sure that it won’t be their last time celebrating in that way.

And with those memories still fresh in our heads, it was a shock to learn that Stuart Scott had passed away, at the age of 49. The memorial shots of his face and the years “1965-2015” are especially poignant. He had already battled cancer for more than seven years, and his acceptance speech at the ESPYs last year–required viewing if you haven’t already seen it–suggested that his time was short.

I wonder if he knew that this New Year’s would be his last. Still, if anyone had the unbreakable spirit to kick cancer’s ass for decades to come, my money would have been on him. But regrettably, his time ran out on the first Sunday of this new year.

Where to begin with Stuart Scott? His was one of the faces that seemed like it would always be on ESPN. And for the next few days, there will be retrospectives and memorials and we’ll get to see his face and hear his voice, perhaps for the final time. He’ll live on in our memories, of course, and in the work of so many who were inspired by him enough to become sportscasters themselves. And some of them will inspire today’s kids, and the cycle will repeat itself, just like it always has.

The days of Stuart Scott and Rich Eisen on Sportscenter have been behind us for many years now. Other faces have come into our homes and delivered what’s new in sports, but none have done it with the aplomb that he had. And that was what made him so compelling.

Sports–particularly at the professional level–are the ultimate razzle-dazzle of our society, and Stuart Scott embraced it as such. You never knew what phrases he would use to describe the day’s sports highlights, but you didn’t want to miss out on them, either. And if you borrowed some of his catchphrases into your own phraseology, that was no problem. Words were his medium, after all. If you’re gonna borrow, do it from the best.

Sports broadcasting lost one of its modern giants on Sunday, and a few words in his honor here are richly deserved. Thanks for the memories, Stuart.

 

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R. Lincoln Harris

R. Lincoln Harris

I’m a Chicago writer. I live in the best city on earth, and I write about the things that interest me. What more could I ever want? Other than a Cubs World Series, of course.

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