Remembering ESPN Anchor Stuart Scott And His North Carolina Connection

Jan 5, 2015

Longtime ESPN anchor Stuart Scott died of cancer Sunday morning. He was 49 years old. Scott was known for his on-camera presence, and the catch-phrases he coined. 

"Boo-Yah!" 

"He must be the bus driver cuz he was takin' him to school."

The broadcaster was beloved in the Carolina community. He went to high school in Winston-Salem, and later attended University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he worked at the campus radio station, WXYC.  After graduation, he worked at stations around the country, and then was hired to help launch ESPN 2.

"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." >>Full obituary.

Even as his star was rising nationally, Scott came back to Carolina and hosted the annual basketball season kickoff,  "Late Night with Roy" for most of the last decade. 

Adam Lucas writes on goheels.com:

Every single time Stuart Scott hosted Late Night with Roy Williams, you knew it was coming. You didn’t know exactly when, or exactly what might prompt it, but at some point, you knew the ESPN anchor would walk to center court at the Smith Center, and that’s when you would see exactly who he really was.

That’s when Scott would usually reach down, touch the interlocking “NC” at midcourt, and say, “This is what it’s all about. This right here. It’s on the floor, it’s on your shirt, and it’s in your heart.”

Scott made it obvious at every opportunity that it was in his heart, too. Too much attention was paid to the way he talked. Nationally, maybe people knew him because he said “Booyah!” or because he had some cool turns of a phrase. Here in Chapel Hill, we knew him because he was a Tar Heel, because he felt the exact same way about this place that we did…and because he went on to do things around the world and seeing the biggest stories in sports never changed his opinion that Chapel Hill was home. >>Full article.

UNC Women's Basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell remembered Scott and her own battle with cancer in her pre-game speech Sunday.

 

Roy Williams released this statement:

Extreme sadness.  It’s the kind of thing where you watch someone on TV and then you get to know them personally and you love so many things about them that it hits you in a sense that you were much closer to them than you really were because he was a part of your life. And so extreme, extreme sadness, and hurt.

He really is an inspiration. Always has been and always will be. He was a pioneer in the media world with his catchphrases. He was a pioneer in saying things that nobody else would say, or he was the first one to say them. But at the same time, the toughness that he showed and the public perception that was so true about how he fought this battle was something that would make John Wayne envy him. The persona of John Wayne fighting cancer, the persona of Stuart Scott fighting cancer and telling me his dream was to walk down the aisle with his two daughters at their weddings is something that he had to be a tough pioneer, a tough person to let that drive you and he did let it drive him. The last few years showing up to our Late Night, handling our Late Night celebration for eight or nine years, was just one of the true gifts that I was fortunate to be involved in.

The fun side of just listening to him on the TV. ‘Vince Carter – Tar Heel. Antawn Jamison – Tar Heel.’ I loved that part of it. He was probably the first broadcaster in any form that could show that and it didn’t bother people. But he could handle it if it had bothered them because he was showing where his heart was. He came back here so many times and talked to our crowd, particularly to the students, about how much he loved the University and what the University of North Carolina was to him. It was a place in his heart, a special place in his heart and it was never going to go away. I remember him saying, ‘I could be gone a year and still when I come back I get those cold chills because I am a Tar Heel. Coming into Chapel Hill to the University of North Carolina, this is our school.’ And the message he got out in every one of those statements that he would make in front of the 21,750 people was so evident in the way he lived his life, and so evident in his broadcasts and the whole bit.

To me personally he was a friend, he was a guy that I idolized. Stuart Scott, he was a hero to me. Stuart Scott. Tar Heel.

Stuart Scott graduated UNC Chapel Hill in 1987. He is survived by his two children.

Stuart Scott hugs coach Roy Williams.