Stuart Scott is an ESPN staple and SportsCenter anchor, who loves his job but says nothing even comes in as a close to second to his being a father to two daughters.
Scott also exemplifies what it means to persevere, which is why he was honored with the 2014 Jimmy V Perseverance Award at the 22nd annual Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly Award ceremony Wednesday night.
Scott was diagnosed with a malignant tumor in 2007 after an emergency appendectomy. He underwent chemotherapy then and was later found to have cancer again in 2011 and in 2013. He is still undergoing treatment now.
Scott’s acceptance of the award, which was started to honor college basketball coach Jim Valvano, or Jimmy V, who started the V Foundation for Cancer Research and died of cancer shortly after giving an inspiring speech at the ESPYs in 1993, was one that would make the legendary coach proud.
And many others would agree.
“When I first heard that I was going to be honored with this award, the very first thing that I did was…I was speechless, briefly,” Scott said. “I’ve presented this award before. I mean, I’ve watched in awe as Kay Yow and Eric LeGrand and all these other great people graced this stage. And although intellectually, I get it — I’m a public figure; I have a public job; I’m battling cancer, hopefully I’m inspiring — at my gut level, I really didn’t think that I belonged with those great people.
“But I listened to what Jim Valvano said 21 years ago, the most poignant seven words ever uttered in any speech anywhere: ‘Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.’
“Those great people didn’t, Coach Valvano didn’t. So, to be honored with this, I also have a responsibility to also not ever give up,” Scott said at the annual event in Los Angeles. “I’m not special. I listened to what the man said. I listened to all that he said, everything that he asked of us, and that’s to build the V Foundation. And let me tell you, man, it works. I’m talking tangible benefits.”
In a segment honoring Scott before he went on stage to accept the award, Scott said, “I’m not losing. I’m still here. I’m fighting. I’m not losing.”
In his acceptance speech afterward though, Scott amended this statement.
“When you die, that 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,” he said to a round of applause. “So live, live. Fight like hell. And when you get too tired to fight, then lay down, rest and let somebody else fight for you. That’s also very very important. I can’t do this don’t give up thing by myself.”
Even with all his support of his family, colleagues and fans, Scott acknowledged that the “fight is much more difficult than I even realized.”
“What you didn’t see in the piece is what’s gone on probably within the last 10 days. I just got out of the hospital this past Friday, seven-day stay. Man, I crashed,” he said, noting liver complications and kidney failure. “I had tubes and wires running out of every part of my body. And guys, when I say every part of my body, I mean every part of my body.
“As of Sunday, I didn’t even know if I’d make it here. I couldn’t fight,” he admitted. “But doctors and nurses could. The people that I love, my friends and family, they could fight. … the people that I love did last week what they always do: the talked to me, they listened to me, they sat silent sometimes, they loved me.”
“This is something that requires support,” he continued. “I called my big sister, Susan, a few days ago. Why? I needed to cry. …and I can just cry. And those things are very important.
“I have one more necessity. … It’s really two, two very vibrant, intelligent young ladies. The best thing I’ve ever done, the best thing I will ever do is be a dad to Taylor and Sidney. It’s true. I can’t ever give up because I can’t leave my daughters. Yes, sometimes I embarrass them. Sometimes they think I’m a tyrant — that’s a direct quote.”
“Taylor and Sidney, I love you guys more than I will ever be able to express. You two are my heartbeat. I am standing here tonight on this stage because of you,” he said.
After thanking ESPN, ESPYS and the crowd, he ended with “have a great rest of your night and have a great rest of your life.”
Watch his full speech: