Stuart Scott – Stronger than Cancer

“When you die, that does not mean that you lose by cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner in which you live.” – Stuart Scott

It’s so hard to fathom, but at 49 years young, Stuart Scott passed away this morning. My immediate reaction is somewhere between disbelief and heartache for his two daughters, who he made clear were his pride, joy, and source of strength. Then I pause to reflect on his impact on the cancer fighting community.

I photographed Stuart Scott a couple of times a few years back for Livestrong and Liz Kreutz. The opportunity came after I finished a job at Ocean City, Maryland, prematurely ending a vacation with a 3 AM drive to Philadelphia. I only knew of Scott what I had seen of him as an anchor on ESPN SportsCenter covering sports news. He interviewed Michael Jordan, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Lolo Jones, countless athletes and individuals who have worked to make an enormous difference in sports and beyond. The reaction from that community is itself inspiring. He had incredible charisma energy on the show, but even more remarkably, that same energy carried through in his life. His ability to connect with viewers on TV was just as as powerful off camera. Everyone is affected by cancer in one way or another. I took a moment that day to approach Stuart one on one to thank him for his example. He obviously knew I was there to photograph the event and after we chatted for a while, I was surprised when he asked if we could take a photograph together.

Stuart refused to let his condition define him. He stayed optimistic, full of life, exceptionally real, he continued to work hard and worked out hard. He fought cancer relentlessly and without ceasing three times, and while he was real about the hurt, his attitude was unwavering. If you’ve never seen him receiving the 2014 Jimmy V ESPY Award for Perseverance, good luck making through it without tears. It’ll be the most powerful film you watch for a while.

My thoughts and prayers go out to his family, his colleagues at ESPN, and every person whose life he touched. Thank you, Stu.