There's a book in Cooper's room entitled "Heroes For My Son." I bought it the week before he was born as a sort of inspiration for who I would want my son to look up to and maybe even who I might want to look up to myself. It contains short passages on people from all walks of life, from Martin Luther King Jr. to Steven Spielberg, who possess the heroic qualities we value most.
Stuart Scott belongs in that book.
I became aware of Stuart Scott at some point in the mid-90's and his impact on me was immediate. The cultural relevance of Sportscenter had well been established by the time Scott arrived on the scene but it was Scott, I think, who first reached out to a wider audience. To the African American community, he was a source of inspiration but that didn't preclude my friends and me from embracing his wholly unique (to us) brand of broadcasting. It felt like he spoke for us, too. In a business that is dominated by personality, Scott stood out as a singular talent and presence. His catchphrases were better than everyone else's and simply put, he was just plain cooler than everyone else. He talked about basketball on a level that other anchors could only pretend to be on. Through high school and well into my college years, the Sportscenter episodes that featured Scott were essentially must-see TV for me.
More important, however, is the way Scott handled his misfortune. Three times, beginning in 2007, cancer tried to take him down and three times he fought back with valor and humility. By that point, I'll be honest, his act had worn thin for me or perhaps I had just become cynical towards his bits and catchphrases. But the way in which he battled, the way he continued to come back to the airwaves to do his thing despite looking like a shell of his former self, and the way he advocated for others in his situation never got old. By all accounts (and I mean ALL accounts), Scott was not just a good man but a GREAT one and someone who has had an indelible impact on the lives of countless others, be they colleagues or complete strangers like me who thankfully had the opportunity to watch him from afar. Stuart Scott was a hero and I can't wait to tell my son about him someday. Booyah.