ESPN

A sampling of tributes to John Saunders

For 30 years, fans have enjoyed John Saunders’ work and this week they joined in grieving with his ESPN colleagues.

Saunders, one of ESPN’s most visible and versatile commentators and a founding member of the board of directors for The V Foundation for Cancer Research, passed away Wednesday.

The following is a compilation of the heartfelt tributes from many who were fortunate to have shared a microphone, a laugh or a cause with John.

Hannah Storm on SportsCenter:

Robin Roberts and Jesse Palmer on Good Morning America:

Stephen A. Smith on First Take:


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Mike Tirico on NBC during the Olympics:

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Dick Vitale on Russillo & Kanell

Barry Melrose on Outside The Lines:


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Mike Lupica on ESPN.com:

“He was tremendous and generous, allowing the rest of us to look good — sometimes no small feat, believe me. But he really was that good at this kind of television. Best of all, people liked John Saunders. Somehow he had the gift that the very best broadcasters have, in that the people who watched him felt as if he were their friend, too. He made them feel like they were part of our conversation.”
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Bob Ley and Chris Berman on SportsCenter:


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Scott Van Pelt on SportsCenter:

Sage Steele on Instagram:

This picture was taken exactly 4 weeks ago tonight at the Espys as John Saunders and I were cracking up with Charles Barkley….this time….Chuck was making fun of John's gray hair. His quote that he posted on his Twitter page afterwards was awesome: "taking grief for my grey hair but no heat in the fire w/out snow on the roof!" Classic John. I had so many laughs with John through the years. I also shed a few tears during our many talks, and was always so very thankful that he cared. John cared about me (and SO many others) as a broadcaster, but most importantly, he cared about me as a person and for my overall well being. When I first began at espn, I was so surprised that someone as prominent as John would want to take extra time for one of the "little people", but that's just who John was. It didn't matter who you were or how "important" you were, he simply cared about others. John Saunders believed in me long before I believed in myself…and was one of the few to encourage, uplift, cheer on, give genuine constructive feedback, honest advice, or just a big hug when need be. I could go on forever. Once again, a giant in our business is gone too soon. A wonderful man, a wonderful friend. As so many of us grieve, I think the best thing we can do is pay it forward & support each other as he supported us. Thank you, John…I am a better human being for having known you! #RIP

A photo posted by Sage Steele (@sagesteele) on

Jemele Hill on His & Hers:


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Jeremy Schaap to SI.com:

“No one, absolutely no one in our industry, was more skilled at communicating his thoughts with intelligence, grace and humor, and no one was more comfortable or natural on camera. But in addition to all that talent, and his preternatural unflappability, there was so much heart. He was generous, which isn’t always the case with the big shots in the big chairs. I think most of that was simply John’s nature, but it was also because he was so secure. When you know you’re that good, as John surely did, you don’t feel threatened by everybody else doing the same job — and you give more freely than everyone who is insecure and threatened. John was that guy — always encouraging, always full of praise for his colleagues, always rooting for them. In that way, he was just like my father, and I think for that reason, and others, he was the perfect choice to succeed my father as the host of The Sports Reporters.”
For more of Schaap’s thoughts on Saunders, please click here.

Mitch Albom in the Detroit Free Press:

“I was sitting at my computer Wednesday morning when the phone rang. ‘I have some terrible news.’ The trembling voice belonged to Joe Valerio, the longtime producer of ESPN’s The Sports Reporters. I have been a part of that show for more than 20 years. But in a million years, I would not have guessed the next words out of Joe’s mouth.
‘John Saunders died last night.’ I’m still at that computer now, hours later, writing these words because I don’t know how else to steel myself against the oncoming grief. I saw John every few weeks for the last 15 years. I was to see him this weekend. Now he’s gone. That fast?”
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