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Stuart Scott Passes Away After Long Battle With Cancer; Statements from UNC & Roy Williams Added

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Sad news from ESPN this morning.

Stuart Scott, a longtime anchor at ESPN, died Sunday morning at the age of 49.

Among the features of the new ESPN studio in Bristol is a wall of catchphrases made famous by on-air talent over the years. An amazing nine of them belong to one man -- from his signature "Boo-Yah!" to "As cool as the other side of the pillow" to "He must be the bus driver cuz he was takin' him to school." That man is Stuart Scott, and his contributions to the sports lexicon are writ large.

But they are only one aspect of his legacy. When he passed away, he left behind so much more. He inspired his colleagues with his sheer talent, his work ethic and his devotion to his daughters, Taelor, 19, and Sydni, 15. He defied convention and criticism to help bring this network into a new century. He spoke to the very athletes he was talking about with a flair and a style that ESPN President John Skipper says, "changed everything."

Scott was a 1987 graduate of UNC and briefly worked for WRAL in Raleigh. Scott was unabashed in his affection for the Tar Heels hosting Late Night with Roy on occasion and returning to speak at UNC commencement in 2001. However his legacy will be his impact on others and his courageous battle against cancer.

Our thoughts and prayers go to his family.

UPDATE: Statement from UNC.

"Our hearts go out to Stuart Scott’s family and friends, including his daughters Taelor and Sydni, and his colleagues at ESPN. He loved his home state and his alma mater. Stuart taught us that sports is about joy and laughter, not just achievement and results. More important, he showed us how to fight with dignity and honor. He blazed a path in broadcasting that is often imitated, but never duplicated. His legacy will live on in many ways – as a friend, a son, a father, a professional and forever, a Tar Heel. All of us at the University he loved so richly feel a profound sadness in his passing. We will miss him but we will honor his memory and continue the fight he endured so bravely."

Also worth watching is this emotional eulogy by Scott's former co-worker Rich Eisen on the NFL Network.

UPDATE #2: Statement from Roy Williams.

"Extreme sadness. It’s the kind of thing where you watch someone on TV and then you get to know them personally and you love so many things about them that it hits you in a sense that you were much closer to them than you really were because he was a part of your life. And so extreme, extreme sadness, and hurt.

He really is an inspiration. Always has been and always will be. He was a pioneer in the media world with his catchphrases. He was a pioneer in saying things that nobody else would say, or he was the first one to say them. But at the same time, the toughness that he showed and the public perception that was so true about how he fought this battle was something that would make John Wayne envy him. The persona of John Wayne fighting cancer, the persona of Stuart Scott fighting cancer and telling me his dream was to walk down the aisle with his two daughters at their weddings is something that he had to be a tough pioneer, a tough person to let that drive you and he did let it drive him. The last few years showing up to our Late Night, handling our Late Night celebration for eight or nine years, was just one of the true gifts that I was fortunate to be involved in.

The fun side of just listening to him on the TV. ‘Vince Carter – Tar Heel. Antawn Jamison – Tar Heel.’ I loved that part of it. He was probably the first broadcaster in any form that could show that and it didn’t bother people. But he could handle it if it had bothered them because he was showing where his heart was. He came back here so many times and talked to our crowd, particularly to the students, about how much he loved the University and what the University of North Carolina was to him. It was a place in his heart, a special place in his heart and it was never going to go away. I remember him saying, ‘I could be gone a year and still when I come back I get those cold chills because I am a Tar Heel. Coming into Chapel Hill to the University of North Carolina, this is our school.’ And the message he got out in every one of those statements that he would make in front of the 21,750 people was so evident in the way he lived his life, and so evident in his broadcasts and the whole bit.

To me personally he was a friend, he was a guy that I idolized. Stuart Scott, he was a hero to me. Stuart Scott. Tar Heel."