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Stuart Scott, 1965-2015: A Generation Mourns

20 years ago, he had to fight to be himself, and won. Today, another fight ended -- but he didn't lose that one, either.

A champion. An icon. A hero.
A champion. An icon. A hero.
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

It may seem strange to cover this here. It may seem egotistical, even. But sometimes, writing is the only way to process how you feel.

As always, you don't know how good you had it until later.

Once upon a time, Stuart Scott and Rich Eisen were actually my least-favorite pair of SportsCenter anchors. Rich was too smarmy, Stuart was too hip.

Of course, once upon a time I was probably an idiot. In retrospect, I can say that and then recognize that I still watched them every single day. Not because I just couldn't get enough sports coverage. Not because there was nothing else on.

Because even if they weren't my favorites, they were still phenomenally great.

There are a lot of you here who are too young still to remember. Once upon a time, ESPN was great. There were times when the channel might not change for days, weeks even. The talent on deck was phenomenal. Dan and Keith. Robin and Charlie. Kenny Mayne and whoever. And Rich and Stu. You may give me the side-eye and say I'm just telling you to get off my lawn, but back then ESPN was less about spin and maximizing revenues and more about, you know, sports. And having fun.

Stuart and Robin Roberts blazed the trail at ESPN, changing sports from a culture where white people talked about a populace which was becoming more and more black to one where the talking heads started to more accurately reflect their subject matter. It's unfair, in pretty much every imaginable way, that it's these two who've had to suffer through the ravages of cancer. Robin Roberts, of course, is a cancer survivor, and has had to beat it twice. Stuart also beat it twice. As he'd tell you right now, and as so many others are saying today, it never beat him, though.

In the end, Stuart Scott was the epitome of dignity. That guy who some had mocked for the hip-hop references, the BOO-YAH, the lazy eye... became something far more. "The only interview that mattered at the end of the year," as Mark Cuban tweeted this morning. Able to call the President a personal friend. A shining beacon of hope to anyone affected by cancer. And also in the end, we look back, and those things he was mocked for are suddenly, improbably, some of the things we love about him now and will miss the most.

But ultimately, when I go I want to have made an impact on someone, anyone, powerful enough to result in this, one of the most moving tributes to one's fellow man that I have ever witnessed. During his live show on the NFL Network, Stuart's best friend, his former on-air "wife", received the news. And off the cuff, without a script, Rich Eisen dropped two and a half minutes we'll never, ever forget. Take it away, Rich.

Stuart Scott leaves behind two beautiful daughters -- 19-year-old Taelor and 15-year-old Sydni. He leaves behind countless colleagues who can't even begin to express what he meant to them, professionally.

And he leaves behind millions of fans whose outpouring of love this morning was a testament to who he was. Godspeed, Stuart.

We also recommend, without reservation, ESPN's obituary, filled with quotes from his colleagues. It was prepared in advance, but the context is timeless.