As I grew up in Homewood, I loved nothing more than to play sports. When I was a kid, I was always the first signed up for little league baseball, basketball, soccer, and more. I didn’t actually start football until 6th grade because Homewood didn’t have a youth program until then. I then stuck with football while continuing other sports here and there all the way through college.
Despite loving sports, and playing all of them I could, I never once thought that I could make a career out of it. It was a fun activity to do after school, but at the end of the day, I knew I needed to go get a boring degree so I could have a career in an office to make enough money to live my life.
In 2008, while majoring in computer science, I drove down to football workouts after class, listening to the end of The Roundtable and beginning of Paul Finebaum on WJOX, as I did each day before I went in to get dressed. I heard the guys from the Roundtable asking for interns for the coming months. I thought it might be a fun opportunity to get my internship hours in, and it could keep me around sports instead of being a boring internship somewhere else.
The internship was so fun, I ended up staying for almost a year, when I was supposed to only stay for 3 months for my school credit. I knew after those months that working in sports media was what I wanted to do with my life. I immediately turned to major figures in sports media to study them and see what I could learn from them. One of the first people I really studied was Stuart Scott.
While in college, I was a regular viewer of the late night Sportscenter’s, often anchored by Stuart. I watched him as he did Monday Night Countdown, the NBA on ESPN, and more. He was everywhere on the network, and everywhere I wanted to be, doing everything I wanted to do.
Stuart Scott got his start in radio as well, at WXYC in North Carolina. He then rose to work at different TV stations until he got his shot at ESPN with the launch of ESPN 2. ESPN 2 wanted to appeal to younger viewers, and grabbed Scott to help get that demographic. As I worked on the Midnight Meltdown in the past, I looked to people like Stuart Scott and what he did in his early years at ESPN. The successes he had individually, although the station ended up moving away from it’s initial goal, motivated me to continue with the work I was doing because I knew it would appeal to people.
Sure enough, Stuart moved on to be one of the most beloved people on the largest sports network. If I could ever accomplish 1/4 of what he accomplished, I would consider my life a success. Despite all the sports figures I’ve met and interacted with over the years, I never had the chance to meet Stuart Scott. However, it’s rare that you could feel like you know someone just from watching them on TV. Stuart wasn’t one of those that felt he was above everyone else. You felt like Stuart was on the couch beside you, not on the TV in a studio in Bristol. He was just one of the guys, and talked like one of the guys. His signature phrases have been repeated over and over today, and they were all a small part of what made Stuart Scott so great.
It won’t be the same on ESPN without him. He was one of the good ones. In a day in which there are so many polarizing figures in the media, Stuart Scott was loved by everyone.
Tonight when I go to bed, I’ll flip my pillow over to the cool side, and remember a great sportscaster, a great father, and a great man – a man whose footsteps I hope I can follow.