A call to action. A cry for help. An opportunity for you to realize your power to give strength to someone affected by a blood cancer (Leukemia, Lymphoma, and Myeloma). Get involved. Make someone stronger.
The 48-year-old “SportsCenter” anchor’s tireless battle against the deadly disease and the positive attitude he has maintained throughout that fight were honored with the 2014 Jimmy V Perseverance Award at the ESPYs on Wednesday night.
The award is named for James “Jimmy V” Valvano, a college basketball coach and broadcaster who is best known for winning an NCAA Championship, and for giving an inspirational speech at the 1993 ESPYs. Just eight weeks later, Valvano died of adenocarcinoma at the age of 47.
That same year, Scott joined ESPN and launched what would become a two-decade career as a sports journalist, commentator and anchor.
In 2007, Scott was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. Since then, he’s not only fought the disease, but he’s chosen to live a full life as a partner, a dad, an athlete and a sports commentator.
Doug Ulman, president and CEO of the Livestrong Foundation, praised Scott in a video feature that aired during the awards program.
“There are a lot of people that see [Scott] as a beacon of light, and something that they can relate to,” Ulman said. “…I hear from people every day. He’s on TV and he’s doing what he loves. They take strength from the fact that he has not been paralyzed by his illness and that he has decided to live life on his own terms.”
During Scott’s acceptance speech, he thanked loved ones and colleagues for supporting his efforts, then showed his modest side, noting that he never thought he belonged in the same category as people who had received past Jimmy V awards.
“At my gut level, I really didn’t think that I belonged with those great people,” Scott said. “But I listened to what Jim Valvano said 21 years ago, 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 talked about how difficult it is to suffer with a disease like cancer. In fact, prior to the show, he underwent four surgeries in the span of seven days. Scott wasn’t even sure if he was going to survive. But with the help of his medical staff, his family, his friends and his fans, he made it to the awards ceremony. And that’s when he realized the whole battle is “not a solo venture.”
“When you die, that does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you lived, why you lived and in the manner in which you lived,” Scott said. “So live. Live. Fight like hell. And when you get too tired to fight, then lay down and rest and let somebody else fight for you.”