There were more hospital visits leading up to the fall of 2014. Many more. And they always ended the same way, with us discussing what we would do when our dad got home. We would just pick right up where we left off. After all, we shared our day-to-day life with him in real time while he was in the hospital. It was just how our life looked in that moment. He was there, and he was certainly still our dad; he just was not staying at home. There was never a moment when we believed he would die. Our dad always believed he would beat cancer, and so did we.
He drove me to and from my middle school dances. He watched Taelor graduate from high school. We were far from who we were going to be as young women, but it gave us time for our dad to shop for prom dresses, celebrate a state championship, watch movies, ask questions and spend rare moments in silence.
We lost our father to cancer on January 4th 2015. To the rest of the world, he was Stuart Scott, the breakthrough ESPN broadcaster with time-tested catch phrases and tremendous confidence, passion, knowledge and creativity. To us, he was the man we called “Dad” and our Sunday morning pancake maker.
Our ordinary life was a compilation of extraordinary moments on a continuum of ups and downs that often left us trying to catch our breath, but it was full and complete. Even before cancer, our dad didn’t take time with us for granted. The 2:00 a.m. “SportsCenter” was hard, but he emerged sleepy and dazed every morning to steal a spoonful of our cereal. And after school, he listened to our account of playground shenanigans – who won at dodgeball and who wasn’t a good listener at circle time, before heading to the 2:00 a.m. SportsCenter again. He knew so many were counting on him to make magic happen that night with updates and highlights. And yes, folks showed up for those explosions of energy that he so famously brought to the show every night. A tired but energized dad came home every evening, grateful knowing that he had given voice to a community whose life looked like his. He taught us very early that representation matters.
Then one day it was over. The frenetic roller coaster came to a stop. The deep sorrow and hurt associated with the loss of our dad will never go away, but a legacy of lessons taught have smoothed the sharp edges of grief and opened a pathway to encourage those who are still in this fight and those who love them. Our dad knew the fight against cancer was not a solo performance – we are still in it together.
A Message From Taelor:
As his oldest daughter, my dad and I shared a love of the art of storytelling. From my journey with my dad’s illness, I know that while cancer creates vulnerability, we can all lean into our collective vulnerability to find our collective strength. We share these words of comfort and hope from our dad with anyone who has lost a parent or loved one to this disease:
“When you die, it does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live and the manner in which you live.”
A Message From Sydni:
As his youngest daughter, I know ourdad’s story didn’t end the day he died. My journey without our dad continues with grief as an unwelcomed partner along the way. At times, grief mangles my sight and clouds my understanding of hope. But I have also been lucky enough to be drawn back from that chasm, reminded by the people I love of the implicit agreement I’m a part of. With grief still by my side, nevertheless, I can – and must – try to make life better for those who still have a chance to keep their families and communities whole, and we can all be a part of that process.
For us, it has meant making the most of the precious time we have been given. Our plan is to tackle health disparities in cancer research and treatment through a partnership with the V Foundation for Cancer Research, an organization our dad was associated with long before his diagnosis. Since his passing, the V Foundation started the Stuart Scott Memorial Cancer Research Fund to address the inequities in cancer, such as the overall higher death rate for different types of cancer and the underrepresentation in clinical trials, which find, test and validate effective treatments for Black and Brown people. The Stuart Scott Fund also supports minority cancer researchers that are underrepresented in the cancer research workforce.
The current public health crisis and anti-racist movements have illuminated and prioritized these inequities into conversations beyond the scientific communities into the forefront where we must focus on closing the gap and ending the disparities. Through raising awareness of the Stuart Scott Fund, we are doing a small part to ensure that we all have the opportunity to have those extra Sunday mornings for pancakes.
To learn more about the specific fund established at the V Foundation, to honor our dad’s legacy, visit v.org.
Taelor and Sydni are daughters of American sportscaster and anchor on ESPN Stuart Scott. Scott was a beloved sportscaster known for his charisma and catchphrases. Scott was honored at the ESPY Awards in 2014 with the Jimmy V Perseverance Award for his courage in his fight against cancer, less than six months before his death in 2015 at the age of 49. Sydni is a current Columbia University student and track star in her third year and Taelor is a Columbia Alum with a degree in Anthropology. Both are now ambassadors for the V Foundation to help raise funds for cancer research through the Stuart Scott Memorial Cancer Research Fund.