“I do this for my culture” —Jay Z, Izzo (H.O.V.A.)
Long before hashtags and random song lyric tweets, I adopted the line above as my credo. It was a reminder that if I did my thing, another young black boy who came from where I came from might also get a chance. Hov’s words inspired that, but watching Stuart Scott break the mold and set the bar at ESPN made it a reality. Seeing Stuart Scott on the World Wide Leader every night, keeping it hip-hop, yet staying articulate made the dream of one day working in sports journalism a tangible goal.
Scott, who passed on Sunday at the age of 49 (January 5th), fathered as many styles as Blue’s dad, too. Hearing anchors drop bars during segments is common in 2015, but it was Scot’s calling card in the early 1990s. If the tanning of hip-hop is a thing, Scott was the catalyst for the browning of sports broadcasting. He infused the lyrics and sayings from the culture he came from and brought them into Middle America’s living rooms. By doing so, he was spoon-feeding people pieces of the genre day after day.
Scott, already on the inside, helped make rap more mainstream and artists respected him for it. His cameos in LL Cool J’s “Shut ’em Down” and Uncle Luke’s “Raise the Roof” (a celebratory move he helped popularize at sporting events everywhere from Brooklyn to Beverly Hills) were testaments to how he’d brought rap through a new door and become an important cultural icon himself.
As bright as Scott shined in front of the camera for over two decades at ESPN, his light was needed in a more somber sense, too. He’d been battling cancer since 2007 and at the 2014 ESPY’s, his spirit was acknowledged when he was awarded the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance. In his acceptance speech, Scott said “When you die, it does not mean that you lost to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner in which you live, “
We’ll mourn his loss, as many other athletes like Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Tiger Woods, and even President Obama have publicly done. But Scott’s legacy will carry on. Every time we see Snoop Dogg hit the ESPN studios for the Top 10 plays; when Lil Wayne drops by to debate Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless on ESPN First Take; or when Stalley and Wale introduce us to the duo with their bars for the show’s theme music, we’ll know it all started at “Boo-Yah!”
Thanks to Stuart Scott.