Stuart Scott's Touching ESPY Acceptance Speech Redefines How We Talk About Cancer — VIDEO
On Wednesday night, ESPN anchor Stuart Scott was presented the Jimmy V Perseverance Award at the ESPY awards. The beloved SportsCenter personality, who has battled a rare form of cancer since 2007, is a well-deserved recipient. But in his speech, he took the opportunity to credit his loved ones and make the entire audience tear up.
Scott started light, unable to resist a shout-out to the star of his favorite show, 24. Just after Kiefer Sutherland introduced Scott, he shook off his fan-boying with humor.
You know tomorrow all my boys are gonna be like, 'Oh man, I saw you at the ESPYs with Peyton Manning, 'Money' Mayweather, and KD. I'm gonna be like, 'Yeah, whatever. Jack Bauer saved the world and he introduced me.'
Then, things got serious.
NCAA basketball coach Jim Valvano's message when he spoke at the first ESPY awards 21 years ago was "Don't give up. Don't ever give up." His words went down in history, memorializing him when he died of cancer eight weeks after his speech. Now, the Jimmy V Award honors those who are continuing to persevere in the face of obstacles — people like Stuart Scott.
Scott shares this honor with figures such as Kay Yow, N.C. State's women's basketball coach who died in 2009 after battling breast cancer, and Eric LeGrand, a football player who was paralyzed after a hard hit during game time.
"At my gut level, I really didn't think that I belong with those great people," Scott admitted while accepting his award. But he said that Valvano's legendary seven words pulled him through. "Don't give up. Don't ever give up ... I'm not special, I just listened to what the man said."
During a pre-recorded video shown before he accepted the award, Scott said "I'm still here, I'm fighting, I'm not losing." But, Scott said, he wanted to amend that : "When you die, it does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner in which you live," Scott said. Much like the words of Valvano, it was a simple, powerful message. We too often talk about "losing" a fight with cancer, but it is the life and impact you leave behind you that keeps your legacy, not your death. That is something that Scott realizes, keeping his family and loved ones close and at the forefront of his life. It's also something that was abundantly clear when he shared a hug with his 14-year old daughter on stage. Honestly, I'm still sniffling.