Last month, Vitale announced that he has lymphoma and would undergo six months of chemotherapy.
And on Tuesday night, an emotional Vitale returned to the commentary booth for ESPN’s coverage of the college basketball game between No. 1 Gonzaga and No. 2 UCLA.
“I didn’t want to cry,” the 82-year-old said through tears before the start of the game.
“I can’t believe I’m sitting here. This is really a big thrill for me.”
In August, Vitale announced he had several surgeries to get rid of melanoma. He wrote in October that doctors don’t believe the lymphoma diagnosis is related.
In an essay on ESPN, Vitale wrote that experts tell him there is a cure rate of 90% for the type of lymphoma he has.
“They say I can continue to work, so I will have to manage my work schedule around my chemo schedule as they will monitor my test results along the way,” he wrote.
Lymphoma is cancer of the lymphatic system, an important part of the immune system. The lymphatic system consists of conduits or tubes throughout the body with filters called lymph nodes along the path. The system carries a clear fluid with immune fighting cells such as lymphocytes.
“Dick Vitale is a one-of-a-kind treasure as a broadcaster and human being,” ESPN Chairman Jimmy Pitaro said upon the announcement of Vitale’s cancer diagnosis. “His love for family and tireless passion to help people in need, especially children, truly define his greatness. He is beloved by his ESPN family and has our full support.”
Vitale has been with ESPN since just after the network launched in September 1979. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008. ESPN says he has been the color analyst for more than 1,000 games.
During the game, Vitale was gifted a jersey from Gonzaga with “Dickie V” on it and one from UCLA with “Never Give Up” on it.
“To ALL of u in any battle ‘Don’t believe in can’t!’” Vitale tweeted before the beginning of the game.