Editor’s Note: New SportsCenter anchor Michael Eaves makes his ESPN debut tonight on the 9 p.m. edition of the show (ESPNEWS). Here, for Front Row, Eaves salutes Stuart Scott.
Stuart Scott was my friend. And I have never been more proud to call someone that, which makes the beginning of my ESPN career so bittersweet.
Stuart and I first met at the 1997 National Association of Black Journalists convention in Chicago. It was the first one I attended. We met at the job fair and made a connection over golf after I saw him practicing his swing. For the next several years, we would also play golf at the convention, oftentimes arriving in the host city a few days early just to play. Our last round came in Philadelphia in 2011 when we played Merion Country Club. It would host the US Open two years later. We joked about tearing up the course before Tiger and Phil got there, and that’s pretty much what we did.
My last conversation with Stuart took place via text message. I was reminding him of one our past NABJ trips where we had played golf and hung out with Sister Hazel and Hootie and the Blowfish in Orlando. We had so much fun that week. I told him how I will never forget those times. Here was his response, which I still keep in my phone: “Bruh… me too… Life’s been good to us. Challenging and difficult in parts but good.”
Even as cancer continued to ravage his body, Stuart still maintained the best and most appreciative attitude.
He passed away a couple of weeks later.
My start here in Bristol has been surreal to say the least. I finished reading Stuart’s book, “Every Day I Fight,” the day after I completed Rookie Camp. I was determined to finish it before I started my SportsCenter indoctrination. The very next day I found out that my desk is right outside Stuart’s office, adding even more comfort to my welcome.
“Every Day I Fight” is the most personal book I have ever read, which makes sense considering our near 20-year friendship. But it went much deeper than that. I felt as if he was speaking to me more than I was reading his words. There were several moments where I got emotional while reading. I not only miss my friend dearly, but I also never got the chance to host SportsCenter with him, something my friends Kevin Frazier and Jason Jackson beat me to.
So while I am super excited about anchoring my first show from Bristol, I really wish there was a date on my future schedule which included Stuart’s name alongside mine. Again, bittersweet.
One of Stuart’s favorite sayings was “life consists of two dates with a dash in between,” and as most of you already know, he was all about making that dash count. Over the next several weeks, months and years, I look forward to all of us here at ESPN sharing parts of our dashes together and absolutely making every single one of them count!