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Stuart Scott's moving ESPY speech
01:35 - Source: ESPN

Story highlights

Stuart Scott dies Sunday after a lengthy battle with cancer

He was seen as an inspiration by many

A speech he gave last year showed his motivation for fighting

CNN  — 

If you don’t know who Stuart Scott was, those who do will likely point you to one particular speech to share why his death reverberates so strongly across the country.

Scott, a veteran anchor on ESPN, died Sunday after a seven-year battle with cancer. He was 49.

He built a career as a sports anchor, but his eloquent observations on his battle with cancer, and the encouragement and motivation to others fighting the disease, made him a role model.

Opinion: Why Scott was a game changer

“When you die, that does not mean you lose to cancer,” Scott said in the July speech at the ESPY Awards. “You beat cancer by how you live, why you live and the manner in which you live.”

It is a line that anyone who has lost a loved one to cancer can take comfort in, and one being repeated much on Sunday, following Scott’s death.

Scott was accepting the Jimmy V Perseverance Award at the ESPYs, and honored the award’s namesake – college basketball coach and broadcaster Jim Valvano – by reflecting on Valvano’s own speech in 1993.

“I listened to what Jim Valvano said 21 years ago, the most poignant seven words ever uttered in any speech anywhere: ‘Don’t give up. Never give up,’” Scott said. “I’m not special; I just listen to what the man said. I listen to all that he said, everything that he asked of us.”

Scott worked for ESPN for 21 years, and is credited with coining catchphrases like “Boo-yah” and “as cool as the other side of the pillow.”

He was born in Chicago and grew up in North Carolina. His early career took him from Florence, South Carolina, to Raleigh, North Carolina, and later to Orlando.

Scott was diagnosed with stomach cancer in 2007.

During that speech, Scott spoke of counting on others for help, and the comfort of family members, even if only to cry with them on the phone.

His message was this: “So live, live. Fight like hell.”

In that same speech, Scott made it clear what his priorities were.

“I have one more necessity – it’s really two,” he said, referring to his daughters. “The best thing I have ever done, the best thing I will ever do, is be a dad to Taelor and Sydni. It’s true.”

Rich Eisen, a sportscaster for NFL Network who was previously Scott’s SportsCenter partner at ESPN, asked for prayers for Scott’s family during an emotional segment Sunday.

“He battled cancer as bravely as anybody else, and I know there many people out there who are battling cancer right now,” Eisen said. “Stuart would want you to know to keep fighting.”

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Rich Eisen's tearful tribute to Stuart Scott
01:13 - Source: CNN

His ESPN colleagues likewise honored him on air.

“Our colleague, our friend, and our inspiration Stuart Scott passed away earlier today,” ESPN’s Hannah Storm said.

President Barack Obama said that although his travels often kept him away from his family, Scott and the “SportsCenter” crew kept him company on his trips.

“Over the years, he entertained us, and in the end, he inspired us – with courage and love,” Obama said in a statement.