Those of us who knew Stuart Scott always knew there was more to him than “BooYAH!”
That expression made him beloved by 12-year-old boys and beloathed by grownups who think sports is too serious to be considered fun and games. I just hope Scott derived as much joy as I did from watching people become apoplectic simply because he refused to regard a dunk or great catch with as much reverence as they.
Dwayne Ballen, a mutual friend of Scott’s and mine and a network sportscaster, said he knew Scott since Scott was a senior at UNC-Chapel Hill and he was working at WTVD. Scott, he said, never saw him over the years without expressing appreciation to him for being a mentor.
Not even Ballen, though, knew this about Scott:
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“He absolutely loved Broadway musicals,” his daughter, Taelor Scott, said, “but his favorite was ‘West Side Story.’ He had it on his DVR and I must’ve seen it at least 20 times... When he was younger, he was in the play, and we’d do all the dances in the living room. I’ll always remember that.”
Taelor, 20, and her sister, Sydni, 16, want to make sure everyone remembers their father and the cause that he made his own before he died January 4, 2015: defeating cancer. After being diagnosed with a very rare form called appendiceal cancer, Scott went full Valvano and pledged to fight to find a cure for the health scourge that the American Cancer Society projects will kill 596,000 people in America this year.
Even that figure, though, represents a 21 percent reduction from 1991, and that may be attributable to the attention and money for research raised by people like the former NC State University basketball coach Jim Valvano and Scott.
Taelor and Sydni Scott released a video love letter to their dad on the anniversary of his death. Robert X. Fogerty of “DearWorld.me” interviewed Scott’s ESPN colleagues and his daughters. “He wanted,” Sydni said, “to capture ‘Dear Stuart’ messages and make it into a short video. When he interviewed us, he decided to make it a ‘Love Letter’ to our dad.”
The evocative three-minute video has gotten thousands of Twitter responses, including one from Michael B. Jordan, the star of the movie “Creed.” That would have pleased Scott, his daughters said, because he was a huge “Rocky” fan.
What would have pleased him even more than the video or the response from Apollo Creed’s son, Sydni said, is “the attention it garnered for cancer. That’s really why we did this - to honor Dad with something that mattered to him.”
In the video, Taelor says their father would take them for ice cream after school and soccer practices.
“There was a parlor in West Hartford that my father and I would frequent after school,” she said. “On one occasion, when he got to the register, he said he’d like to pay for the family in line behind us. We paid for them, but we left really quickly. The next time we were there, the woman who worked there said it had inspired a movement, and for the rest of the day people continued to pay for the people behind them.
“Coolest thing ever,” she said. “Since then, whenever and wherever we go get ice cream, we pay for the people behind us.”
Scott’s birthday this year fell on National Ice Cream Day – the third Sunday in July – so the family hosted a “Virtual Ice Cream Party” around the country, in which people tweeted to them pictures of themselves eating ice cream in memory of their dad. Public Enemies Chuck D and Flavor Flav sent such a tweet from Italy, and Sydni said several ESPN employees and their families “showed up at our local Carvel and ate ice cream for two hours. .. We called it ‘Scoops for Stu.’”
At the beginning of the video, Stuart Scott says “I can’t ever give up, because I can’t leave my daughters. The best thing I’ve ever done, the best thing I’ll ever do, is be a dad to Taelor and Sydni.”
After speaking with them, I can attest that parenting them is an achievement of which their mom, Kimberly, and Stuart can be proud.
Oh yeah: want to know something delicious?
Booyah, popularized by Stu, is actually a Belgian stew.