Behind The ScenesNCAAB

Vitale: “While my throat continues to heal, I need to shut it down for the season”

ESPN's original PTPer writes that he will soon need surgery to solve Dysplasia and ulcerated lesions of the vocal cord; he aims for return to the airwaves for 2022-23 college basketball season

Dick Vitale
(Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images)

I had my scheduled follow-up visit today with Dr. Steven Zeitels, a leading throat specialist, who had diagnosed me with Dysplasia on the vocal cords a few weeks ago and ordered me to rest my ailing voice.

Well, today, Dr. Z. delivered the news that even though the rest really helped, I need to give my voice an even longer “T.O., Baby!” And there is no doubt I will soon need surgery to solve my Dysplasia and ulcerated lesions of the vocal cords.

So, while I’m heartbroken that I won’t appear on ESPN for the rest of this season, I’m encouraged by the progress. In fact, it appears that by resting my voice for the past three weeks, I’ve reduced the inflammation by 60 percent. Let’s hope the added rest will help it heal some more, and things will look even better when I go for my next follow-up visit on Feb. 16. Once the inflammation heals, we will set a date for surgery.

My throat’s condition is clearly moving in the right direction, and Dr. Z. is very optimistic that this can be successfully treated to have me strong for the 2022-23 season on ESPN.

As I’ve said before, this issue is separate from the cancer treatments I’ve been going through. I’m happy to report that according to my doctors, my ongoing chemo for Lymphoma continues to progress positively as well. I’ve seen what cancer can do. I feel so lucky.

You know I am an eternal optimist who acts like he’s a teenager. Yet there is no doubt these past five months have been emotionally and physically frustrating. I am so appreciative of the love and care demonstrated by the incredible members of the medical community. And I will be forever grateful for the calls, texts, and social media expressions of encouragement from friends, colleagues, fans, media and members of my ESPN family. I love people, and I’m honored to receive such overwhelming support.

I will continue to provide updates as I go along, and I am firm in my belief that I will win this battle and be back doing what I love – calling games at courtside next season. In the meantime, I will enjoy all the great games from my living room and savor the love of my marvelous family. Thank you all.

Dick Vitale is rightfully synonymous with college basketball, and his absence from the telecasts the rest of this season will leave an irreplaceable void. We at ESPN join the millions of fans who can’t wait to have him back calling games from inside arenas whenever he is ready. – Jimmy Pitaro, Chairman, ESPN and Sports Content

Steve Zeitels, MD (L) and Dick Vitale (Dick Vitale/ESPN)
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