Yesterday the sports broadcasting and entertainment world lost a towering personality and consummate professional in the person of Stuart Scott. Most of us knew Scott vicariously through his seat on the ESPN Sports Center anchor desk. He was known for his “ghetto fabulous” delivery and turn of phrases such as “Boo-Yah” to signify an especially impactful sports play or “cooler than the other side of the pillow” to describe a play or player he admired for exhibiting calm under fire. Stuart was the master of catch phrases including: “Like gravy on a biscuit, it’s all good; just call him butter cuz he’s on a roll;” “It’s your world kid. The rest of us are just paying rent; “Vlade (as in basketball player Divac) Daddi, he like to party. He don’t cause trouble, he don’t bother nobody;” and “Lord he made his kinfolk proud: Pookie, Ray-Ray, Moesha nem!”
At the news I tweeted, “#StuartScott – perfect example of being the best by being yourself” One of my friends replied, “A culturally relevant sportscaster.” The more I thought on that the more I recognized her response perfectly captured Scott’s appeal for me. He wasn’t a physically big guy or a baller. He was just Stuart. Just Stuart like your running buddy who comes over to your house to watch the game and talks “smack” the whole time. Just Stuart like the brother you see at the barbershop and always prophesizes or delivers the post mortem on the big game. Just Stuart who refuses to let fame or fortune change who he is. Just Stuart, who under no circumstances, will sell his soul.
I loved watching Stuart Scott on Sports Center because it was clear that he understood there was no separation between being smart and “being” Black. He was educated, intelligent, and to use his own phrase, as “cool as the other side of the pillow!” Stuart Scott was the epitome of “culturally relevant.” He had the knowledge to do his job; he was culturally competent and linguistically fluent, and had a critical consciousness. He was “culturally relevant” and the proof is in the way he brought a new generation of viewers to sports casting. Indeed, for years most Black folks that I know watched sports broadcasts with the audio on mute. We just couldn’t stand to listen to the boring, lackluster (and sometimes, racist) commentary. But then, along came Stuart Scott and “Boo-yah.” Ray-Ray was explaining stuff…no diggity, no doubt!
But as the reactions, responses, and remembrances pour in we also learn more about Stuart Scott the man, the friend, and the father. We learn that Stuart Scott was a man of integrity and compassion. We learn that he was a man who had his priorities in order. We learn that he was not controlled by his disease—indeed he was emboldened by it. He fought cancer on 3 separate occurrences and through the excruciating pain and horrific treatment he remained both courageous and hopeful. We learn just how much he loved his daughters with everyone from his broadcasting colleagues to President Obama noting that his role as a dad was the most important to him. He refused to move to Hollywood (which would most definitely have advanced his career) because it would have taken him away from his girls. Everyone who worked with him talked about his professionalism and his willingness to reach out to new colleagues to help them along. All of the comments and tweets from athletes indicated how much they respected and trusted him.
I think the accolades for Stuart Scott come because his real specialness came as a result of his being himself. He wasn’t trying to be Bryant Gumbel, or Chris “Boomer” Berman, or (CBS analyst) James Brown. Stuart Scott was too busy being Stuart Scott and making you feel like he was sitting right there on the couch with you and the minute LeBron James made a spectacular dunk, or Richard Sherman delivered a big hit, or El Duque struck out the side you just knew he would say, “Boo-Yah!”
Rest in Peace and Power Stuart…Boo-Yah!
Stay Black & Smart!