Stuart Scott shook up the “SportsCenter’’ anchoring model when he arrived at ESPN in 1993 - initially at brand new ESPN2 - taking risks that not everyone embraced but that have paid off in a long, high-profile career.
But he said the idea never was to be different for the sake of being different.
“I followed what had already been established here, and that is be yourself,’’ he said recently during a media tour of ESPN’s new digital center. “Be who you are.’’
Specifically he credited Chris Berman for breaking ground by bringing a distinct personality to the job of reading sports highlights.
“When I got to ESPN I saw the people who ran our company had the foresight to understand diversity,’’ he said. “And diversity is not just what people look like. It is personality and how people fit on the air.’’
Scott, 48, long since has evolved from a curiosity to a fixture, but in recent years an ongoing illness has added a layer to his personal story.
On Tuesday he will be honored at the “ESPYS’’ with the Jimmy V Perseverance Award, named for the late Jim Valvano and awarded to Scott for his determination over a seven-year battle with appendiceal cancer.
He has fought the disease in part with intense mixed martial arts training while maintaining a heavy on-air workload.
Scott said in a news release the honor made him “literally speechless.’’
Perhaps so, but count on that problem passing by Tuesday, when he figures to deliver a speech in which he is his usual, interesting self.