Amidst a seven-year battle with cancer, ESPN anchor Stuart Scott gave an emotional speech during Wednesday’s night’s broadcast of the ESPYs.
Scott,48, accepted the prestigious Jimmy V Award, named after the legendary North Carolina State coach Jim Valvano, who gave a similar heartfelt speech back in 1993 before he succumbed to cancer.
Scott had quietly battled the disease since his diagnosis in 2007, but made his condition public in a profile published by the New York Times in March. Stuart has continued to work at ESPN and largely maintained the fast-paced, high-stress job despite his condition. When the Times interview was published, he had already undergone 58 treatments of chemotherapy but later switched to a pill.
Prior to the speech, actor Kiefer Sutherland presented a vignette that chronicled Scott’s battle. The video provided viewers a glimpse of Scott’s treatments, as well as interviews with his girlfriend Kristin Spodopbalski and two daughters Taylor and Sydni.
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Modestly, Scott said he didn’t really believe he deserved the award as much as previous recipients.
“When I first heard that I was going to be honored with this award, the very first thing I did, I was speechless, briefly,” Scott said. “I’ve presented this award before. I mean I’ve watched in awe as Kay Yao 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, 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,” Scott continued. “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 now have a responsibility to also not ever give up. I’m not special. I just listened to what the man said.”
Scott also said he nearly didn’t make it to the ceremony, after a hellish 10-day span during which he underwent four surgeries, but he pushed through thanks to his doctors, nurses, family and friends.
“When you die, it doesn’t mean that you lose to cancer,” Scott said. “You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner in which you live.”