TNT sideline reporter Craig Sager waves to fans at a game between the Miami Heat and the Chicago Bulls on April 7, 2016. Sager has been battling leukemia since 2014.
TNT sideline reporter Craig Sager waves to fans at a game between the Miami Heat and the Chicago Bulls on April 7, 2016. Sager has been battling leukemia since 2014.
PHOTO: Getty Images
Now playing
03:18
Craig Sager refused to be sidelined by cancer
Mohammed Anas mistakenly thanks his wife and girlfriend after being awarded as the Man of the Match
Mohammed Anas mistakenly thanks his wife and girlfriend after being awarded as the Man of the Match
PHOTO: SuperSport
Now playing
00:45
Footballer: I call my daughter my girlfriend
PHOTO: YouTube/Lyft
Now playing
00:48
NBA player pranked about being cut from team
new york knicks krystaps porzingis interview don riddell_00005816.jpg
new york knicks krystaps porzingis interview don riddell_00005816.jpg
Now playing
04:07
Kristaps Porzingis talks basketball, life in America
PHOTO: Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon
Now playing
00:56
Peyton Manning gets egged on Fallon
PHOTO: TruTV
Now playing
06:57
Shaq gets in on wild prank
manny pacquiao apology compare gays to animals sot ws_00004602.jpg
manny pacquiao apology compare gays to animals sot ws_00004602.jpg
PHOTO: Instagram
Now playing
01:00
Manny Pacquiao apologizes for comparing gays to animals
2015-08-09 17:51:26
2015-08-09 17:51:26
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
01:55
Wacky sports you WON'T see at the 2016 Olympics
nba looking to globally expand adam silver interview alex thomas_00000401.jpg
nba looking to globally expand adam silver interview alex thomas_00000401.jpg
Now playing
01:32
NBA looking to go global
obama golden state warriors luke walton credit sot_00001004.jpg
obama golden state warriors luke walton credit sot_00001004.jpg
Now playing
00:51
Obama: Warriors coach doesn't get any credit either
kelly slater surfer move judges vo ct_00001002.jpg
kelly slater surfer move judges vo ct_00001002.jpg
PHOTO: World Surf League
Now playing
01:38
Surfer's 'freakish ability' doesn't wow judges
shaquille oneal surprise basketball game viral video nr_00001914.jpg
shaquille oneal surprise basketball game viral video nr_00001914.jpg
Now playing
00:45
NBA legend crashes kids' basketball game
PHOTO: Lyft
Now playing
01:09
Do you recognize this undercover Lyft driver?
stephen curry nba digital_00003810.jpg
stephen curry nba digital_00003810.jpg
PHOTO: NBA TV
Now playing
01:06
Stephen Curry: I try to take my game to the next level
mls soccer la galaxy steven gerrard intv_00015827.jpg
mls soccer la galaxy steven gerrard intv_00015827.jpg
PHOTO: Instagram/stevengerrard
Now playing
03:10
Steven Gerrard: I have peace and quiet in L.A.
PHOTO: TNT
Now playing
01:11
Shaq faceplants during NBA broadcast
peyton manning doping accusations nichols bpr_00005401.jpg
peyton manning doping accusations nichols bpr_00005401.jpg
Now playing
02:41
Peyton Manning denies doping allegations
tennis match fixing allegations intv _00020723.jpg
tennis match fixing allegations intv _00020723.jpg
Now playing
02:46
World tennis jolted by match-fixing investigation
FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 22: New England Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady talks to the media during a press conference to address the under inflation of footballs used in the AFC championship game at Gillette Stadium on January 22, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 22: New England Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady talks to the media during a press conference to address the under inflation of footballs used in the AFC championship game at Gillette Stadium on January 22, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
Now playing
06:20
Top 10 moments in sports from 2015
nba gun violence psa nichols nr_00023416.jpg
nba gun violence psa nichols nr_00023416.jpg
PHOTO: Everytown for Gun Safety
Now playing
03:01
NBA players speak out against gun violence
peyton manning gift to drunk driver victim pkg_00010423.jpg
peyton manning gift to drunk driver victim pkg_00010423.jpg
Now playing
01:27
Peyton Manning surprises mourning family
Now playing
04:48
Tennis icon Billie Jean King on body image in sports
welter/nichols intv_00022514.jpg
welter/nichols intv_00022514.jpg
Now playing
03:27
First female NFL coach speaks on being a trailblazer
spc the circuit danica patrick_00000000.jpg
spc the circuit danica patrick_00000000.jpg
Now playing
02:55
Motorsport's leading lady
stand-up whitewater paddleboard orig nws_00015608.jpg
stand-up whitewater paddleboard orig nws_00015608.jpg
PHOTO: Nick Scott/CNN
Now playing
02:00
Stand-up paddleboarders tackle rapids
history of doping in sport_00014312.jpg
history of doping in sport_00014312.jpg
Now playing
02:19
The evolution of doping in sport (2018)
pkg nichols mayweather pacquiao_00015908.jpg
pkg nichols mayweather pacquiao_00015908.jpg
Now playing
04:35
Mayweather's fans talk about his domestic violence
KEY BISCAYNE, FL - APRIL 05: Novak Djokovic of Serbia looks on against Andy Murray of Great Britain during the Men
KEY BISCAYNE, FL - APRIL 05: Novak Djokovic of Serbia looks on against Andy Murray of Great Britain during the Men's final match on day 14 of the Miami Open at Crandon Park Tennis Center on April 5, 2015 in Key Biscayne, Florida. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Getty Images
Now playing
01:03
Djokovic apologizes for scaring ball boy
pacquiao sings scholes_00002828.jpg
pacquiao sings scholes_00002828.jpg
Now playing
01:00
He normally doesn't do this, but ...
nat pkg will ferrell_00001903.jpg
nat pkg will ferrell_00001903.jpg
Now playing
01:34
Will Ferrell's hilarious attempts at spring training

Story highlights

Sportscaster Craig Sager was diagnosed with leukemia in 2014

Editor’s Note: Craig Sager, the longtime Turner Sports sideline reporter best known for his colorful wardrobe, lost his battle with cancer on December 15, 2016. Here’s a look at our profile of him from August 2016.

(CNN) —  

The U.S. men’s basketball team missed having NBA sideline reporter Craig Sager at the Olympics in Rio. So they sent him a special message during the broadcast at the start of the games.

“We wish you were here, man. We’re gonna try to win this gold for you … you know you’re a part of our family,” said star forward Kevin Durant.

“Keep the faith, and we gonna do this for you,” added teammate Carmelo Anthony.

The upbeat sportscaster has inspired players, coaches and fans with his “never give up” attitude during a grueling two-and-a-half year battle with cancer.

Known for his lively interviews and colorful outfits at NBA games, the 65-year-old Sager said he realized something was amiss at a game in April 2014.

“I ran into the doctor for the [Dallas Mavericks], and he looked at me and said, ‘Sager, what’s wrong?’ I go, ‘Doc, I don’t know.’ He says, ‘You’ve got to go to the emergency room.’”

Craig Sager at the 2016 NBA All-Star Game in one of his trademark loud jackets.
Craig Sager at the 2016 NBA All-Star Game in one of his trademark loud jackets.
PHOTO: EDWARD M. PIO RODA/TURNER SPORTS

When Sager arrived at the hospital his red-blood cell count was so low he was near death. The veteran reporter for TBS and TNT (both networks, like CNN, are part of Turner Broadcasting), who had never missed a day of work in his life, was suddenly sidelined. The diagnosis was grim: acute myeloid leukemia.

“Your world just comes crumbling down. It’s devastating,” said his wife, Stacy Sager. “What he needed to do was just be strong and know that he and I can fight this together.”

A son steps up

Sager went through chemo and needed a bone marrow transplant. As it turned out, his son Craig was a perfect match.

Sager hugs his son, Craig Sager II, before his bone marrow transplant.
Sager hugs his son, Craig Sager II, before his bone marrow transplant.
PHOTO: Courtesy Sager Family

“It’s a bond that you can’t talk about or describe with a son,” Sager said. “Now I was relying on him, and I needed him.”

The transplant was successful, and Sager couldn’t wait to return to the court. He received a standing ovation from fans at his first game back in March of 2015.

“It was just an incredible night,” he said. “I thought that was it. I’d beat cancer, and I’d never have to worry about it again.”

But the cancer came back.

Sager’s only option this time was a grueling clinical trial of 14 days of chemo at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. When he needed a second bone marrow transplant, his son saved his life again.

“I didn’t really even think of it as donating,” said his son, Craig Sager II. “We were in it together.”

Sager interviews Klay Thompson before the 2016 NBA All-Star Game.
Sager interviews Klay Thompson before the 2016 NBA All-Star Game.
PHOTO: EDWARD M. PIO RODA/TURNER SPORTS

Sager recovered just in time for the start of the 2015-2016 NBA season.

“I went through the whole year, and I didn’t miss a game. I felt great,” he said.

A second relapse

Then in February, another relapse. Doctors told him that without treatment, he had three to six months to live.

But Sager has refused to let cancer win.

#SagerStrong: Fans sport splashy duds to support TNT’s Craig Sager

“Craig and I had some serious conversations,” said Dr. Naveen Pemmaraju, Sager’s physician. “They essentially went like this: ‘Doc, you gotta let me keep working.’ I said, you better believe it.”

“They wanted to try this outpatient chemo, and I said no problem. I was adamant. I didn’t want to miss any games,” Sager said. “It’s where I’m supposed to be, and I wanted to be there.”

Through chemo and blood transfusions, he never stopped working. ESPN invited Sager to cover Game 6 of the NBA Finals in June – the first NBA Finals of his career.

“It was a tremendous night,” Sager said. “I was just glad I was a part of it.”

’Stolen time’

Now Sager is back at the hospital enduring intense chemo to prepare for a rare third transplant, this time with an anonymous donor. But Sager’s son is still supporting his dad any way he can.

“We almost have stolen time. I mean I’ve been told he’s had two weeks to live five times. And each time he’s fought his way through it,” his son said.

The elder Sager, who has five children, said he wants “to embrace every day.”

“There’s no way to know how many months or how many weeks somebody has,” Dr. Pemmaraju said. “I’ve never seen anyone as positive as him.”

“The most important thing for us is just to live our normal life and [for him] to just continue to do what he loves,” said his wife Stacy.

Even though Sager couldn’t travel to Rio for the Olympics, he left the hospital to support the U.S. men’s basketball team at their final exhibition game in Houston.

“I was really surprised that Coach [Krzyzewski] asked me to address the team [in the locker room],” he said. “It was a special moment.”

Last month, Sager received the “Jimmy V Perseverance Award” at the ESPYS, the ESPN awards show. He delivered an emotional speech, declaring he “will never give up.”

“I will continue to keep fighting, sucking the marrow out of life as life sucks the marrow out of me,” Sager told the audience. “I will live my life full of love and full of fun. It’s the only way I know how.”