Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A00291 - Maher Hathout, Advocate for American Muslims

Maher Hathout in 2012. CreditChris Carlson/Associated Press
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Maher Hathout, an Egyptian-born cardiologist who became an influential American Muslim leader, preaching interfaith comity and helping to sustain the Islamic faithful in the United States against the backlash after the 9/11 attacks, died on Jan. 3 in Duarte, Calif. He was 79.
His death, at a hospital near Los Angeles, was confirmed by Salam al-Marayati, president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, which Dr. Hathout helped found in 1988. He had been treated for liver cancer.
 For decades Dr. Hathout encouraged American Muslims to join the multicultural mosaic of the United States.
“He represented free and critical thinking in helping Muslims face contemporary challenges and bring congruence between living as a Muslim and as an American,” Mr. Marayati said. “He influenced many young Muslims to participate in civic life, people who now lead in major government, media and philanthropic institutions.”
Both committed to his religion and patriotic to his adopted country, Dr. Hathout, the author of three books on Islam, called on American Muslims to embrace their dual identity, admonishing them that home was defined not by their roots in the Middle East or South Asia but by their present and future.
“Home is not where my grandparents are buried,” he said, “but where my grandchildren will be raised.”
That vision shaped his response to radical Islam. He repeatedly challenged reflexive juxtapositions of Muslims with terrorists, explaining to non-Muslims that terrorism was un-Islamic, and that the true meaning of “jihad” is an internal spiritual struggle of purification and promotion of social justice and human rights.
After Muslim suicide bombers killed 52 people in central London in 2005, Dr. Hathout carried that message directly to Muslims.
In a sermon to the Islamic Center of Southern California, which he also helped found, he declared: “It is our responsibility — young and old, parents, sons and daughters, teachers and students, leaders and activists — to rally together to plug the holes through which the distorting predators pass through and push the substances that kill brain cells and fill hearts with despair and hate.”
Dr. Hathout himself was no stranger to conflict.
Born in Egypt on Jan. 1, 1936, he enlisted as a student in the protest movement against Britain’s half-century occupation of his country. He was imprisoned for almost five years. After earning bachelor’s and medical degrees at Cairo University, he left Egypt in 1968 for Kuwait, then moved in 1971 to Buffalo, where he worked as a cardiologist and became active in the Muslim community.
Six years later, he settled in Los Angeles. He was joined there by his older brother, Dr. Hassan Hathout, at the Islamic Center of Southern California, which was notable for having placed a woman on its board of directors as early as 1952. There he helped start a coeducational youth group and a weekly nationally televised program about Islam.
In 1991, Dr. Hathout helped found the Religious Coalition Against War in the Middle East, became the first Muslim chairman of the Los Angeles Interfaith Council, and in 2000 was the first American Muslim to deliver the invocation at a Democratic national convention, in Los Angeles. Dr. Hathout was also a charter member of the Pacific Council on International Policy.
“He had the innate ability to embrace a lot of people who many people wouldn’t have embraced because of that ability to see something good and powerful in someone else,” said the Rev. Dr. Gwynne Guibord, an Episcopal priest who invited Dr. Hathout to join the board of her own interfaith centerin Los Angeles.
He is survived by his wife, Dr. Ragaa Hathout; two children, Dr. Gasser Hathout and Samer Hathout-Blackshire; and four grandchildren.
Dr. Hathout had been prominent among American Muslims and leaders of other religions well before 2001, but the Sept. 11 attacks and their aftermath helped introduce him to a wider community seeking a credible, progressive voice that preached pluralism and integration.
Shortly after the attacks, Dr. Hathout said that Osama bin Laden’s appeal to Muslims to emulate the Sept. 11 terrorists had debased Islamic theology.
The Quran permitted “anyone to call on God for anything,” he explained. That said, he added, “It is for the Almighty to make the judgment of whether to act.”

Maher Hathout (January 1, 1936 – January 3, 2015) was a leading American-Muslim community leader of Egyptian origin, and widely regarded as the Father of the American Muslim identity.[1] Hathout helped to found the Muslim Public Affairs Council and spoke extensively against Islamic radicalism.[2]
Born in Cairo, Egypt in 1936, Hathout eventually moved to Buffalo, New York, and then to Los Angeles. He immersed himself in volunteering at the Islamic Center of Southern California (ICSC) as Chairman and Spokesperson. One of the most progressive mosques in the country – the ICSC had a woman on its board of directors in 1952 – the Islamic Center became a vehicle for a vision of Islam in America that is rooted in what Hathout called the definition of home: "Home is not where my grandparents are buried, but where my grandchildren will be raised."
Hathout stressed throughout his life that being a faithful Muslim was entirely compatible with being a proud American, and that Islam is a religion of coexistence, reason and moderation.
He was also among the pioneers of interfaith engagement within the American Muslim community, helping found the Religious Coalition Against War in the Middle East with Rev. George Regas and Rabbi Leonard Beerman in 1991. Hathout was a charter member of the Pacific Council on International Policy, the western partner of theCouncil on Foreign Relations, and served on the Board of Directors of the Interfaith Alliance and Claremont Lincoln University.
Over the years, Hathout was invited repeatedly to Capitol Hill and the State Department to address a variety of topics, such as "Islam and U.S. Policy," "Islamic Democracy," "Emerging Trends in Islamic Movements," and "The Future of the Middle East." He was also the first Muslim invited to give the invocation prayer at the Democratic National Convention in 2000.[3]
Hathout was the recipient of many awards, including the George Regas Courageous Peacemaker Award, the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California’s Lifetime Service Award, the South Coast Interfaith Council Award for his life-long commitment to interfaith work and the Los Angeles County John Allen Buggs Award for excellence in human relations. He died of cancer in Duarte, California on January 3, 2015.[4]


A00290 - Ruth Popkin, Hadassah Leader

Ruth Popkin, who led Jewish causes, in an undated photo.CreditHadassah
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Ruth Popkin, who emerged from a secular background to lead two major Jewish organizations, Hadassah and the Jewish National Fund, in work that benefited Israelis and refugees in the 1980s and ’90s, died on Jan. 2 at her home in Manhattan. She was 101.
Her son, Michael, confirmed her death.
Ms. Popkin became involved with Hadassah, or the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, after a friend invited her to a meeting in the 1940s.
“I had been raised in a secular environment, and it was almost like an introduction to Judaism,” she told The New York Times in 1987. “I stayed with it, and within a year I was president of my group.”
Founded in 1912, Hadassah initially worked to provide modern medical care to Palestine. After Hitler was appointed chancellor of Germany in 1933, it began relocating Jewish children from Europe to Palestine.
Ms. Popkin became Hadassah’s president in 1984. During her tenure it had 380,000 members, making it one of the largest women’s volunteer organizations in the world. (It now has 330,000 members, supporters and donors, the group says.)
Under Ms. Popkin, Hadassah helped house and acclimate the first major wave of young Ethiopian Jewish immigrants to Israel as part of Youth Aliyah, a program that had long helped young refugees and impoverished Israeli children. There are now more than 100,000 Ethiopian Jews in the country. Hadassah also raised money to plant 100,000 trees in Israel.
Ms. Popkin was frequently Hadassah’s delegate to the World Zionist Congress, the policy-making body of the World Zionist Organization. In 1987 she served as the Congress’s president.
Her Hadassah presidency ended in 1988, but she continued to serve on the organization’s national board until recent years.
As president of the Jewish National Fund, beginning in 1989, she helped resettle Ethiopian and Russian refugees in Israel and undertook environmental projects, like the redevelopment of the Hula Valley in northern Israel. Her term ended in 1992.
Ruth Willion was born in Brooklyn on June 13, 1913. She studied philosophy at Brooklyn College and worked as an assistant buyer at Stern’s department store before marrying Morris Popkin in 1937. They had three children, one of whom, their daughter Victoria, died in 1969.
Mr. Popkin, who owned two fish markets and later invested in commercial real estate, died in 1978. In addition to her son, she is survived by another daughter, Louise Popkin; and two grandchildren.
Ms. Popkin told The Times that her work with Hadassah had been transformative. “From a timid young housewife,” she said, “it educated me toward understanding and appreciation for my heritage, gave me an education in Zionist history and the development of our Jewish history.”

A00289 - Jeff Golub, Jazz Guitarist

Jeff Golub, left, and Rod Stewart performing in 1991 in Budapest. Mr. Golub also worked with Billy Squier and as a soloist. CreditPhotoshot/Everett Collection
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Jeff Golub, a guitarist who worked with rock stars like Rod Stewart and Billy Squier and for the last two decades had a successful genre-crossing solo career, died on Jan. 1 at his home in Manhattan. He was 59.
The cause was complications of progressive supranuclear palsy, a rare brain disorder for which there is no known cure, his wife, Audrey Stafford Golub, said. Mr. Golub lost his eyesight in 2011 but continued to perform and record until 2013, when his condition left him unable to play.
Mr. Golub was for many years a fixture on the smooth jazz charts and was most closely associated with that often critically maligned genre, which puts as much emphasis on steady, relaxed grooves as it does on improvisation. But his playing, which incorporated jazz, rock, blues and even country influences, resisted categorization.
“There’s only two kinds of music,” he once said. “The kind that’s from the heart and the kind that’s not.” 
Born in Akron, Ohio, on April 15, 1955, and raised in nearby Copley, Mr. Golub decided to become a guitar player at age 8, when his father took him to see the Grand Ole Opry. He attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston for a year before leaving to study privately with the jazz guitarist Mick Goodrick.  
Mr. Golub toured and recorded extensively with Mr. Squier before forming his own band, Low Profile. In 1988 — the same year he released his first album, “Unspoken Words” — he joined Mr. Stewart’s group, with which he remained until shortly after forming another band, Avenue Blue, in 1994. He also performed and recorded extensively as a sideman in those years, with the singers Tina Turner and Vanessa Williams, the saxophonist Gato Barbieri and many others.
In addition to his wife, Mr. Golub is survived by two sons, Chris and Matthew; his mother, Pearl Golub; a brother, Pete; and a sister, Patti Hippler. 
Mr. Golub recorded about a dozen albums as a leader for various labels, the most recent of which emphasized the bluesier aspects of his playing. His last album, a collaboration with the keyboardist Brian Auger, was recorded not long after Mr. Golub narrowly survived a fall onto the tracks at a New York subway station in 2012. The title of the record was “Train Keeps a Rolling.” 

Monday, January 12, 2015

A00288 - Sacvan Bercovitch, American Studies Scholar

Sacvan Bercovitch in 2007. CreditKris Snibbe/Harvard University
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Sacvan Bercovitch, a distinguished literary scholar who traced America’s self-image of “exceptionalism” to the rhetoric of the colonial Puritans of New England, died on Dec. 9 at his home in Brookline, Mass. He was 81.
The cause was cancer, said his wife, Susan Mizruchi.
In perhaps his most influential work, “The Puritan Origins of the American Self” (1975), Dr. Bercovitch argued that unlike colonists in New Spain, New France or New Amsterdam, who saw their outposts as an extension of European societies, the Puritans saw New England as something new — “a city upon the hill,” as John Winthrop, the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, described it — which would be a shining example for the rest of the world.
Both John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan echoed the phrase in their speeches, and Gov. Mario M. Cuomo of New York, in his keynote speech at the 1984 Democratic National Convention, played off the reference, accusing Reagan of overlooking the hardships of the poor. “Mr. President,” he said, “you ought to know that this nation is more a ‘Tale of Two Cities’ than it is just a ‘Shining City on a Hill.’ ”
Werner Sollors, a professor of English literature and African-American studies at Harvard, where Dr. Bercovitch taught from 1983 until he retired in 2001, called him “the last of the great American studies scholars.”
“The rhetorical basis of so much American political rhetoric, religious rhetoric and also articulations in writing, he located very convincingly in the Puritan sermon tradition,” Dr. Sollors said.
Dr. Bercovitch’s 1978 book, “The American Jeremiad,” expanded on his thesis. Here he discerned an American version of the jeremiad, a harangue about society’s declining morals named after the biblical prophet Jeremiah. In this version, however, after berating an audience for its failings, the speaker would end up extolling the country as the world’s best hope for redemption.
“He thought there was something particular about the U.S. sense of its exceptionalism that had propelled the United States to become this hugely successful, powerful, dominant nation,” said Christopher Looby, an English professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. “That’s the kind of thing I think you see carrying through even to the last presidential election. Mitt Romney was challenging Obama: ‘Do you or don’t you think America is an exceptional country?’ ”
Dr. Bercovitch took a circuitous route to becoming an expert on Puritans and American literature.
He was born on Oct. 4, 1933, into a Yiddish-speaking left-wing family in a Jewish ghetto in Montreal. His first name is a combination of Sacco and Vanzetti, two anarchists who many thought had been wrongly executed in 1927 for murder and armed robbery. His unsettled childhood included stays in foster homes. He studied briefly at the New School for Social Research in New York and Reed College in Oregon, before moving to Israel to live as a dairy farmer on a kibbutz.
After returning to Montreal, he worked at a grocery store and obtained a night-school education at Sir George Williams College, now Concordia University, graduating in 1961. He obtained master’s and doctoral degrees from Claremont Graduate School in California.
In preparing for the oral examination for his Ph.D. in American studies, Dr. Bercovitch read the works of the Puritans, who were known for their unadorned way of life.
“It came as a shock to find that Puritan literature was anything but plain,” Dr. Bercovitch wrote in the preface to the 2011 edition of “The Puritan Origins of the American Self.” “It abounded in images, analogies, symbols, tropes and allusions; it had recourse to every kind of rhetorical device.”
After academic positions at Columbia, Brandeis and the University of California, San Diego, he returned to Columbia as a professor in 1970. He moved to Harvard in 1983.
In addition to his wife, Dr. Bercovitch is survived by two sons, Eytan and Sascha, and two sisters, Sylvia Ary and Ninel Segal. He and his first wife,Hanna M. Bercovitch, were divorced.
Dr. Sollors recalled Dr. Bercovitch as having a free-ranging mind and a somewhat bemused sensibility about American society. He noted that before his first meeting with Dr. Bercovitch, he prepared for the occasion by reading his colleague’s writings, expecting a serious discussion about them.
“We did it for about five minutes, and then he started talking about the movie ‘The Stepford Wives,’ ” Dr. Sollors said, referring to the 1974 satire in which American suburban men replace their wives with robots. “One could have a wonderful argument over a weird movie.”
He added: “He would put himself out there as an ordinary Canadian immigrant who was startled by things in America and tried to make sense of it. That’s how he looked at himself — as a hero in a Kafka story.”

A00287 - Stuart Scott, ESPN's Voice of Exuberance


Stuart Scott, on the set of “SportsCenter,” joined ESPN in 1993 and quickly became known for his arsenal of catchphrases. CreditRich Arden/ESPN

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Stuart Scott, a prominent ESPN sportscaster who was known for infusing his reports with a blend of pop culture references, slang and exuberant phrases that made him something of a pop culture figure in his own right, died on Sunday in a Hartford-area hospital. He was 49.
The cause was cancer, ESPN said.
“Booyah!” was Scott’s signature expression, and it spread well beyond sports and into mainstream culture. Other times he would enliven his offerings of scores, commentary and highlights with remarks like “Cool as the other side of the pillow,” “Just call him butter ’cause he’s on a roll,” and “Wow! That was as hard-core as the Wu-Tang Clan on steroids!”
Scott, the most prominent black sportscaster at ESPN, told the online magazine XXL in July that hip-hop was an important part of his life — as was Broadway music.

“You’ve got to be true to who you are and what you do,” he said. “I’m more of a hip-hop feel person. Music is how you feel. The younger the mind, that’s how I want to be.”


Scott, who was found to have cancer in 2007, accepting a perseverance award at the ESPYs in July in Los Angeles.CreditKevin Winter/Getty Images

He appeared in videos with the rappers LL Cool J and Luke, and he was cited in “3 Peat,” a Lil Wayne song: “Yeah, I got game like Stuart Scott, fresh out the ESPN shop.”
Scott recognized that his critics did not always like his affinity for rap, but he insisted that he did not care what they said. He told NPR in 2002 that one black viewer had said to him, “All you’re trying to do is drag our race down” by using improper language and slang. “We’re better than that,” the man told Scott.
Scott said: “All right, man. We’re better than that. That’s not going to make me change what I do and how I do it.”
Scott joined ESPN in 1993 for the beginning of its first spinoff network, ESPN2, but he soon moved to “SportsCenter,” which had already developed stars like Keith Olbermann, Dan Patrick, Chris Berman, Robin Roberts and Bob Ley. Scott became defined as much for his energy, wit and stylish wardrobe as for his arsenal of catchphrases.
“Stuart brought a different, unique sensibility to ‘SportsCenter,’ ” said James Andrew Miller, an author of “Those Guys Have All the Fun,” an oral history of ESPN. “He invented his own style, and in doing so, he grew the audience. He was easily one of the most influential personalities in ESPN history.”
In a statement, President Obama said: “Twenty years ago, Stu helped usher in a new way to talk about our favorite teams and the day’s best plays.”
The president added: “Over the years, he entertained us, and in the end, he inspired us — with courage and love.”
Scott also hosted N.F.L. and N.B.A. shows — in the studio and on the road — and less serious fare like “Dream Job” and “Stump the Schwab.”
He learned of his cancer in 2007 while on assignment in Pittsburgh for “Monday Night Football,” having had an emergency appendectomy. Doctors discovered appendiceal cancer.
The cancer recurred several times, requiring him to miss stretches of time in the studio and assignments. To stay in shape, he endured exhausting mixed-martial-arts and cross-training workouts, sometimes right after chemotherapy treatments.
“For the mind, it’s better than any chemo,” Scott told ABC’s “Good Morning America” early in 2014. “It’s better than any medicine.”
Even while undergoing operations, chemotherapy and experimental treatments, he never asked his doctors for a prognosis, he said.
“Stage 1, 2 or 8, it doesn’t matter,” he told The New York Times last March. “I’m trying to fight it the best I can.”

Scott was born on July 19, 1965, in Chicago to O. Ray and Jacqueline Scott. When he was 7, his family moved to Winston-Salem, N.C., where he grew up loving football and was a captain of his high school team. He played on a club football team at the University of North Carolina.
“Much as I love mixed martial arts, I love football more — more than any activity until I had kids,” he told The Times.
At North Carolina, he majored in speech communication. He graduated in 1987 and worked at local news stations in the South for several years before ESPN hired him.
Scott is survived by his daughters, Taelor and Sydni; his companion, Kristin Spodobalski; his parents; his sisters, Susan Scott and Synthia Kearney; and his brother, Stephen.
In July, Scott received a perseverance award at the ESPYs, ESPN’s televised award ceremony. The honor is named for Jim Valvano, a former North Carolina State basketball coach who died of cancer in 1993 at 47 after working as a commentator for ESPN.
In accepting the award, Scott said that he had had four operations in the previous week and had had kidney failure and kidney complications.
“When you die, that doesn’t mean you lose to cancer,” he said on the stage, eliciting comparisons to the speech that Valvano gave at the ESPYs shortly before his death. “You beat cancer by how you live, why you live and the manner in which you live. So live. Fight like hell, and when you get too tired to fight, lay down and rest and let someone else fight for you.”
As he ended his speech, he called his daughter Sydni to the stage to give him a hug.
“I need one,” he said.


Stuart Scott dies at age of 49

Updated: January 5, 2015, 4:05 PM ET
By Steve Wulf |

Stuart Scott's Legacy


Stuart Scott, a longtime anchor at ESPN, died Sunday morning at the age of 49.
Among the features of the new ESPN studio in Bristol is a wall of catchphrases made famous by on-air talent over the years. An amazing nine of them belong to one man -- from his signature "Boo-Yah!" to "As cool as the other side of the pillow" to "He must be the bus driver cuz he was takin' him to school."

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That man is Stuart Scott, and his contributions to the sports lexicon are writ large. But they are only one aspect of his legacy. When he passed away, he left behind so much more. He inspired his colleagues with his sheer talent, his work ethic and his devotion to his daughters, Taelor, 19, and Sydni, 15. He defied convention and criticism to help bring this network into a new century. He spoke to the very athletes he was talking about with a flair and a style that ESPN president John Skipper says, "changed everything."
"He didn't just push the envelope," says sports radio host and former ESPN anchor Dan Patrick. "He bulldozed the envelope."
Scott was remembered through an outpouring of tributes by athletes, colleagues and fans on Twitter and statements from his alma mater, the University of North Carolina, which said that "his legacy will live on in many ways -- as a friend, a son, a father, a professional and forever, a Tar Heel," and President Barack Obama.
"I will miss Stuart Scott. Twenty years ago, Stu helped usher in a new way to talk about our favorite teams and the day's best plays. For much of those twenty years, public service and campaigns have kept me from my family -- but wherever I went, I could flip on the TV and Stu and his colleagues on SportsCenter were there. Over the years, he entertained us, and in the end, he inspired us -- with courage and love. Michelle and I offer our thoughts and prayers to his family, friends, and colleagues," the president said.
Moments of silence were held at sporting events around the United States on Sunday, including the NFL wild-card games between the Cincinnati Bengals vs. Indianapolis Colts and Detroit Lions vs. Dallas Cowboys; the Mavericks-Cavaliers NBA game in Cleveland and at several college basketball games.
Scott saved his best for his last year on the air. At the ESPYS on July 16, shortly before his 49th birthday and following another round of cancer surgery, Stuart accepted the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance with strength, humor, grace and these eloquent words: "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."
[+] EnlargeStuart Scott
Rich Arden/ESPN ImagesStuart Scott made famous the catchphrases "Boo-Yah!" and "As cool as the other side of the pillow."
So while the grief is deep at ESPN over the death of Stuart Scott, so is our gratitude. He was as popular on campus as he was in the airports he passed through and on the sidelines he worked over the last 22 years. He brought so much to the party, and he will continue to do so, through the people he inspired, and the language that he liberated, and the audience that will remember him.
Steve Levy, who came to ESPN shortly before Stuart in August 1993 and served as his co-host for the first "SportsCenter" from the new studio last June, put it this way: "I think the audience recognized that when Stuart was on, there was going to be something special. And to his credit, he brought something special every night he was on."
"SportsCenter" anchor Jay Harris, who grew up watching -- and hoping to be -- Stuart, says, "Think about that phrase, 'As cool as the other side of the pillow.' It's a hot, stifling night. You're having trouble sleeping. But then you think to turn the pillow over, and, wow, it's cool, and it feels so good.
"Well, that's who Stuart is. He is 'the other side of pillow,' the man who made sportscasting cool. God bless whoever it was who thought to rearrange the bedding at ESPN."
Stuart was born in Chicago, but he, along with two sisters and a brother, spent his formative years in North Carolina, where their father was a postal inspector who always had time to play after work. Stuart went to R.J. Reynolds High in Winston-Salem and then the University of North Carolina, where he played wide receiver and defensive back on the club football team, joined Alpha Phi Alpha and worked at the student radio station, WXYC. After graduating in 1987 with a degree in speech communication, Stuart was hired by WPDE-TV in Florence, South Carolina. He says that's where he first came up with the pillow metaphor. "People say I stole it from a movie," he told an interviewer in 1998, "but I first thought of that and said it on my first job ... I just liked it."
[+] EnlargeStuart Scott
Courtesy ESPNStuart Scott was diagnosed with cancer in November 2007 and dealt with recurring bouts of the disease.
His career path took him from Florence to Raleigh, North Carolina, to Orlando, Florida, and in his pre-ESPN clips, you can feel his energy, hear his music and sense his on-camera charisma. At WESH, the NBC affiliate in Orlando, he first met ESPN producer Gus Ramsey, who was beginning his own career. Says Ramsey, "You knew the second he walked in the door that it was a pit stop, and that he was gonna be this big star somewhere someday. He went out and did a piece on the rodeo, and he nailed it just like he would nail the NBA Finals for ESPN."
He first met ESPN anchor Chris Berman in Tampa, Florida. "He stuck out his hand and said, 'One day I look forward to working with you,'" Berman said. "And I said, 'Well, I tell you what, we'll save you a seat.' And I'm really thrilled that he was right on. [Later] I said, 'Stu, maybe you were the Swami.'"
The person most responsible for bringing Stuart to Bristol was Al Jaffe, ESPN's vice president for talent, who was looking for sportscasters who might appeal to a younger audience for ESPN2. "One of the producers on a story we were doing on the Orlando Magic told me about this young guy he really liked. I followed up and found out that Stuart's contract was up soon. He sent me a tape, and even then, he had an amazing presence -- I felt the viewer would sit up and take notice when he was on the air."
His first real ESPN assignments were for "SportsSmash," a short sportscast twice an hour on ESPN2's "SportsNight" program. When Keith Olbermann graduated from "SportsNight" to ESPN's "SportsCenter," Stuart took his place in the anchor chair. "He was like a ball of fire walking in the door," says ESPN senior vice president Mark Gross, a coordinating producer at the time. "I had never met anybody like Stuart Scott."

SVP & Russillo

"I've called him Boo-Yah forever," says Norby Williamson, the ESPN senior vice president who helped guide Stuart during those early years. "Ever since he used that catchphrase on the air for the first time, and we looked at each other and said, 'What the hell is that?'"
That was the future, and it looked and sounded different from the present. "There were successful African-American sportscasters at the time," says ESPN director of news Vince Doria, who oversaw the studio programming for ESPN2 back then. "But Stuart spoke a much different language ... that appealed to a young demographic, particularly a young African-American demographic."
Suzy Kolber, the ESPN anchor who also began at ESPN2, says, "Stuart called me his TV wife, but we really were like a family, trying to launch this brand-new network and spending all this time together. Fortunately, some of us lasted longer than ESPN2 did.
"When he went to ESPN, Stuart didn't change his style -- and there was some resistance. Even I encouraged him to maybe take a more traditional approach, but he had a strong conviction about who he wanted to be, and the voice he wanted to project, and clearly, he was right, and we were wrong."
[+] EnlargeStuart Scott
Rich Arden/ESPN ImagesStuart Scott accepted the Jimmy V Perseverance Award at the ESPYS on July 16, 2014.
Gus Ramsey, who arrived in Bristol in 1994, remembers exactly when he knew Stuart had found a new audience. "In the fall of '95 I asked him if he wanted to go to my high school homecoming football game in Greenwich, Conn., and he said, 'Sure, let's go.' We got there mid-first quarter, and we just kind of walked up to the sidelines, and one by one, the kids start comin' over to him. It didn't hit me until that moment that this guy was making an impact."
But as Stuart's star rose, so did the vitriol of those who resented his color, or his hip-hop style, or his generation. He received a lot of hate mail, most of it anonymous. If the senders did leave a name and address, Stuart would answer and ask them to tell him what the problem really was.
He was disarming in other ways, as well. He may have represented new school, but he was decidedly old school when it came to preparation. Nobody could ever say he didn't work hard, or labor over his "SportsCenter" lead-ins. "He was really conscious of getting it right," says ESPN anchor Linda Cohn. "He had that great balance of being entertaining and being right."
And as cocky and brash as he was, he liked nothing better than to sing a good duet every night. For years, he and Rich Eisen would do just that on the 1 a.m. "SportsCenter," a show that made its way to the next day's water cooler thanks to their chemistry -- and repeated viewings. Yes, there was an Ebony and Ivory theme to their show, but more importantly, they were two young sports nuts playing off one another for the benefit of other young sports nuts.

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Eisen, now the lead anchor for the NFL Network, says, "Who would have thought the perfect guy for me, a Jewish kid from Staten Island, would be an African-American guy with North Carolina roots? Sometimes neither one of us knew who the other was talking about, but it worked. It was always a trip doing a 'SportsCenter' with Stuart."
ESPN anchor John Anderson likens the talent wave at the network to NASA's astronaut programs. "There was the Mercury program, which gave us Chris Berman and Bob Ley, great pilots who went up there without teleprompters or whatever. Then along came the Apollo astronauts, like Keith Olbermann and Dan Patrick, Rich Eisen and Stuart. They took us to the moon ... and left the rest of us to fly the space shuttle."
The confines of a studio could not hold Stuart. Before the millennium arrived, he was covering the MLB playoffs, the Final Four and the NBA Finals. He wrote for ESPN The Magazine and went one-on-one in interviews with Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan. Once the century rolled over, he did pretty much everything, hosting game shows and New Year's Eve specials, sitting down with President Obama, and becoming the guiding light for NBA and NFL coverage. There were a few downs mixed in with the ups, though. He suffered an eye injury while trying to catch a pass at a New York Jets mini-camp, necessitating surgery that put him out of work for a few months. His marriage to Kimberly Scott, the mother of their daughters, came to an end. And on Nov. 26, 2007, while covering a "Monday Night Football" game between the Steelers and Dolphins, Stuart had to have an emergency appendectomy that revealed a malignancy requiring additional surgery.
[+] EnlargeStuart Scott
ESPNStuart Scott joined ESPN in 1993 for the launch of ESPN2.
Through it all, Stuart remained upbeat and defiant. "That's what I love about him," says Kolber. "No matter how big he got, no matter how bad it got, he never changed. He loved his work, he loved his daughters, he loved being Stu."
And he continued to do "SportsCenter." "Nobody, with the possible exception of Chris Berman, does highlights as well as Stu," says Kolber.
So, with that in mind, and with the help of his colleagues, here are the Top 10 roles Stuart played for ESPN:
Competitor. "He wasn't as good an athlete as he thought he was," says Harris, a frequent golfing partner. "But he was the best-dressed guy on the course."
Patrick remembers an epic basketball game at the YMCA. "Stuart was playing like it was the seventh game of the NBA Finals, and he's guarding me like I'm Michael Jordan. ... I drive to the hoop, he undercuts me, I fall on my back and nearly pass out. I go back out on the floor, say, 'Give me the damn ball,' Stuart D's me up, make the shot, walk off the floor and go to the emergency room because I chipped a vertebrae.
"I recently told that story on the air. And Stuart tweets, 'You may have scored, but I sent you to the hospital.' That's my Stuart."
That competitive nature always made for a better show. According to anchor Scott Van Pelt, "Stuart would always say to me, 'Game recognizes game.' You try to bring out the best in yourself so you can bring out the best in the person next to you."

Mike and Mike

Friend. For all his fame, Stuart was buds with everybody in Bristol, be they production assistants or co-hosts or executives. "He was Stu to everybody in the halls," says Anderson, "but Stuart on the air. I found him to be one of the few people in this business who is actually much nicer off TV than he is on. He was just one of the first guys to say, 'Hey, I'm going to play golf, wanna come with me?'"
His offer of friendship took on a deeper meaning for ESPN vice president Tim Scanlan: "When he found out that my wife had the same type of cancer he had, he was one of the first people to reach out to me and offer help. He started giving me advice ... and I in turn would talk to my wife. And every time she saw him on the air, you could see a noticeable pick-up in her spirit and energy and in her ambition to fight another day."
"NBA Countdown" anchor Sage Steele remembers the day last year when her family moved from Connecticut to Arizona to be closer to her show in Los Angeles: "The moving trucks were at my house, and Stuart was there with his girlfriend Kristin to say goodbye to us, and my 10-year-old son Nicholas had to say goodbye to his best friend across the street, and he came back sobbing, sobbing, leaving his best friend in the world. ... Stuart said, 'I got it.' And he took Nicholas aside and just sat down with him and described his moving away as a kid, losing his best friend as a 10-year-old boy and how he handled it. He spent 20 minutes sitting there with Nicholas, helping him feel better.
"Stuart spent three hours at our house that day, in pain and hardly able to stand, but he did it. And he sat there for my kid."

ESPN Radio

Celebrity. At a certain point, Stuart became as famous as the athletes he covered. That's partly why he starred in so many "This is 'SportsCenter'" commercials, alongside Tiger, Kobe, Keyshawn, LeBron, Mr. Met ... and Chad Johnson, who rejected Stuart's idea for a touchdown celebration with "Boo-No!"
Eisen was there at the birth of his fame. "The Saturday night before the NBA All-Star Game in New York City. Stuart and I had to do the 11 o'clock 'SportsCenter,' so with a lead foot, we got to Times Square at around 2 in the morning, and the party at the All-Star Cafe with Gretzky and Shaq and Tiger is letting out. A cop gives us the coordinates for the afterparty, and now we're walking to 33rd and 10th Avenue ... Stuart walking down the street was like Elvis entering the building. People were stopping us every two feet. I'll never forget when one person went up to Stuart and me and said, 'Hey, wow, Stuart Scott!' Then the guy looks at me and goes, 'And the white guy. I love you, the white guy!' And Stuart laughed so hard because it sort of confirmed his belief that he provided me with street cred."
African-American. ESPN knew enough to have sportscasters who represented 45 million Americans, not to mention 80 percent of the players in the NBA and 70 percent of those in the NFL. What we didn't know, until Stuart got here, was how important it was to have someone who could relate to them.
"He was a trailblazer," says ESPN anchor Stan Verrett, "not only because he was black -- obviously black -- but because of his style, his demeanor, his presentation. He did not shy away from the fact that he was a black man, and that allowed the rest of us who came along to just be ourselves."
"Yes, he brought hip-hop into the conversation," says Harris, "but I would go further than that. He brought in the barber shop, the church, R&B, soul music. Soul, period."
Some of his best moments on the air came when he adopted the persona of a preacher: "Can I get a witness from the congregation?!" And one of his best moments off the air came when a producer suggested he change a reference on his NBA show from Omega Psi Phi, the fraternity of Michael Jordan and Shaquille O'Neal, to something more universal, like Animal House.
"I have friends who have no idea what that movie is about," Stuart told him. "That movie was made two decades ago, and black fraternities have been around since 1906."
Worker. "I never found him without a statistic to back up what he was saying," says Patrick. "He wanted you to know that he knew what he was talking about, and he never failed."
There were times in the last few years when his friends worried that he was working too hard. "He'd be tired," says anchor John Buccigross. "But once he sat down in the chair ... he would just start to click in and get that zero focus ... 'Where's this guy from?' ... 'Who has the most triples of all time?' Once he got into the show, you just forgot about everything, and it was just Stuart Scott doin' 'SportsCenter,' havin' fun."
Poet. "Listen to his lead-ins," says Buccigross. "They're thoughtful and precise, really well-constructed lead-ins to a news story or big game or moment."
Yes, he would reference Tupac, but he also would quote Shakespeare: "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."
And occasionally, he would bust out his own poetry, as he did for this jam on Michael Jordan's 50th birthday on Feb. 17, 2013:
the best ever ... a CLEVER phrase we OVERuse ...
when mere greatness becomes our MUSE ...
or artistic inspiration ... but the real celebration
of "best ever" is an ENDEAVOR
into MORE than GREAT! WAIT ...
didn't you see the tongue wagging ...shorts baggy ...
practically DRAGGING teammates to 1-nc2a ... 2-gold ...
brotha I was sold when he won 6-NBA rings ...
but the THING that makes "best ever" SING ...
not scoring titles and-MVPs,
the double nickel that sliced the knicks at their knees ...
the 63 he put on Bird ... Larry Legend sayin' PLEASE ...
is that GOD?
As for Stuart's most famous line, Eisen discovered one night that it was not what's up on the wall in the new studio. Recalls Eisen: "He would write down the catchphrases on the specific portion of the highlight, so I would watch him do this, and it wasn't 'Boo-Yah,' it was 'Boo-Yow.' He would spell it out B-O-O dash Y-O-W. He was a technician when it came to that sort of thing. I remember being jarred, and when I asked him about it, he thought I was making fun of him. But I wasn't."
Father. "His girls mean everything to him," says Harris. "I mean his girls mean everything to him. He would easily take Stuart Scott, dad, over Stuart Scott, 'SportsCenter' anchor."
"He's a great, great dad," says Ramsey. "He just takes so much pride in the girls, and you can't see him without him taking out his phone and showing you a video of Taelor or Sydni singing or dancing or playing soccer."
Occasionally, Stuart would give a shout-out to Sydni's soccer team, but that was easy compared to another commitment he made to his daughters. "His daughters and my daughters danced at the same studio," says Anderson. "One year we went to their performance of 'The Nutcracker.' And here comes Uncle Drosselmeyer, and I thought, 'That man looks a lot like Stuart Scott,' and it was -- he was there for his girls. I'll never forget him coming out in this big cape, swooping in with his nutcracker, and he was great. I'm not sure the dance steps were up to Baryshnikov, but certainly the intentions were."
Charmer. Stuart's role in "The Nutcracker" was not unlike one of the roles he played at ESPN. For those not up on their Tchaikovsky, Uncle Drosselmeyer is the toymaker who brings the tableau to life at midnight -- sort of what Stuart did in Bristol.
Anderson calls it "magic." Harris calls it his "Stuartness." It's this ineffable way Stuart had of welcoming you to the party, bringing you into his confidence, making sure you were having a good time. A classic talent like Vin Scully might ask you to pull up a chair. Stuart would bring you a beer and introduce you to Tiger or Michael or Peyton.
Warrior. Stuart and Steve Levy share one personal career highlight: Taking "SportsCenter" to Camp Arifjan in Kuwait in 2004. "The soldiers kept coming up to thank us, and we're like, 'No, we're here to thank you.' Stuart and I were both patriotic, but this took it to a whole new level of respect for what our men and women in uniform go through."
Ten years later, Levy watched a different kind of warrior go to work. "He was so tired. We'd be waiting for a game to end, and he'd close his eyes. ... That wasn't the Stuart Scott that I worked with for so many years. And yet, when the red light came on, when he was on camera, you had no idea. He never slipped. His ability never slipped, and the audience at home couldn't tell what Stuart was dealing with."
In a telling piece in The New York Times in March, Richard Sandomir spent the day with Stuart as he worked out at a martial arts studio in West Hartford, Conn. At one point, he lifted up his EVERYDAY I FIGHT shirt to reveal the scar from his abdominal surgeries. "I never ask what stage I'm in," Stuart told Sandomir. "I haven't wanted to know. ... I'm trying to fight it the best I can."
Champion. On June 15, 2014, Stuart flawlessly handled the trophy presentation to the Spurs -- after doing 300 push-ups that day. "We stood on the floor," says Williamson, "and there's all these things going around -- and immediately we snapped back to 20 years ago ... and I just ... told him I was proud of him, and I loved him."
A month later, as Steele watched Stuart climb the steps to the stage at the ESPYS, she worried about whether he could deliver his speech.
"But then I reminded myself, 'Hello, who are you talking about here? This is Stuart and he's not going to let this moment get away.' ... Raw and honest, powerful and indelible. ... He owned it, just like he owned every sportscast, every 'SportsCenter,' every 'Monday Night Football' show he did. He owned it."
Since that night, "You beat cancer by how you live" has become a rallying cry for millions of patients and their families.
Stuart won.



Early life and career[edit]





Personal life[edit]

Eye injury[edit]

Appendectomy and cancer[edit]

Jimmy V Award[edit]

Death and tributes[edit]