Remembering “Uncle Stu” 4 Years Later

photo cred: Joe Faraoni/ESPN

 

When you sit down to write a blog post most responsible people have if nothing else an idea, maybe an outline or just a overall mental picture of what their post should look like, read like and feel like.

I don’t have any of that right now. All I know is that four years ago God decided that cancer had had enough of the beating Stuart Scott was giving it and He decided to let Stu rest.

I don’t have an outline of how this thing is supposed to go I just feel like I need to be here in this space on Al Gore’s internet writing what I feel. I don’t have a story about how when I worked at ESPN Stuart Scott gave me some words of advice or a hug when I needed it most. In a crazy way, I never actually met Stuart Scott but you couldn’t convince me that he wasn’t my people. For those in the cheap seats, “my people” in black culture means: my family or my kinfolk. Stuart Scott was like our play uncle.

As someone who covers sports ( Gametime Radio, The Hawks Beat ) there was always a vision before I actually arrived in these spaces to allow me the opportunity to produce content dealing with athletes. The vision was molded by Uncle Stu. He was on a national platform exposing the world to Black culture even if they weren’t aware of it.

“BOO YAH”

“As cool as the other side of the pillow”

“Can I get a witness”

– Uncle Stu

Uncle Stu was never trying to be anything other than his genuine self. As a youngster growing up trying to find an identity in a world dominated by a culture that wasn’t mine he (and Scoop Jackson of slam magazine) let everyone know that it was ok to be yourself. If you have a little flava, you can channel that into something the masses will consume.

As much love as the Dan Patricks, Keith Olbermans, and Chris Bermans of the world received, it was always about Stuart Scott.

He was ours.

I would smirk when he shouted out some of the national black fraternities during a highlight reel knowing good and well only a select few knew what he was talking about. It was like when you tell a joke and folks don’t laugh, then you hit them with, “Well you just had to be there.”

As time would continue to move like it so often does, I became drawn to people who were in this business and were able to do their jobs while not compromising on who they were as people of color.  Scoop Jackson, Michael Smith, Jemele Hill, Bomani Jones and a host of others really helped shape how I consume and how I produce media. I will never forget when Mike and Jemele had Stuart on their podcast and Stuart demonstrated this type of kung fu hold on Mike in the studio and I really feared for Mike’s life. As Jemele tried to balance her laughter while narrating you could hear Mike in the background trying to tap out and gasping for air.  I laughed so hard you couldn’t convince me that I wasn’t in the studio while they were recording. Yea, that was a good time amongst family.

Time continued to move because that’s what time does.

Watching Stu battle cancer was sobering and brought back memories of when my Father battled cancer. The crazy thing was like the idea of Stu losing this battle never really crossed my mind. I was like “Oh ESPN bout to have two people (i.e Robin Roberts) that beat cancer .. That’s pretty dope.”

This man was taking chemo and still doing kick boxing workouts. Read that sentence again. I remember sitting with my dad for the first time during a chemo session. I distinctly remember the horrific smell as they inject that poison into the body. It took hours. I was drained and all I did was just sit there.

If you have never experienced someone taking chemo you won’t fully understand that enormity of what I just said. This man was living his life in a gear that most people don’t live while they are healthy. Hearing the stories about how he would get sick in between takes when he was doing NBA games but you never heard anyone talk about him complaining.

This was where his legacy was being molded. Much more than witty catch phrases this man was showing the value of who he was as a professional, as a father and as a man. My father didn’t battle cancer long and for that I am thankful because everyone has to take a different journey. Stu’s cancer came back 3 times and each time he put a whupping on cancers ass.

I tried to watch his legendary acceptance speech he gave at the ESPY’s for some quotes but I couldn’t get through it all without shedding tears. But get these words in your spirit.

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

Listen, as a writer, it’s frustrating to try and explain how someone you never met had such a profound effect on your life. So let me close with this.

I was coming back from Florida, I don’t remember why I was even down there in the first place. I got the ESPN alert that Stu had passed.

Nah..

I remember folks crying over the deaths of musicians and actors and I used to think, “Yo you didn’t even know them like that.” I gathered my things and left the hotel where I was staying en route back to Atlanta. Grabbed a quick bite from McDonald’s and hoped on 75 North to go home. It was raining. I remember the dreariness of the day and as I drove listening to ESPN radio hosts share their experiences with Stuart Scott (my Uncle Stu). I cried.  .. Then I cried some more, to the point that I was about to pull my car over. I eventually composed myself and let the raindrops falling on my windshield serve as tears for the many folks nationwide who mourned my Uncle Stu on that day.

It’s four years later and these tears feel a little different than they did four years ago yet they still fall in remembrance of you.

Thanks Unc

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