By Ed Odeven
Dick Vitale is a beloved figure throughout the college basketball world. The legendary announcer’s inspiring battle with cancer becomes a rallying cry for college basketball.
The outpouring of support for him during his ongoing battle with cancer is inspiring and a celebration of his endearing personality.
The 82-year-old Dick Vitale has a gift for connecting with people and making them feel special. On top of that, there has never been a better ambassador for college basketball. His enthusiasm is infectious. His love of the game is genuine.
Part of his appeal is the fun-loving kid that still exists inside him; even during a life-threatening chapter in his life.
While revealing that he has lymphoma in mid-October, the former Detroit Pistons coach wrapped up an article he penned for ESPN.com by saying:
“IF YOU SEE ME, PLEASE JUST GIVE ME A FIST BUMP AND SAY A PRAYER THAT I CAN RETURN FROM BEING 82 YEARS OLD TO ACTING LIKE I’M 12. THANKS SO MUCH FOR YOUR LOVE.”
An ESPN original, Dickie V is now in his sixth decade working as an analyst for the worldwide leader in Sports. He was the color commentator for ESPN’s first-ever college basketball telecast; DePaul vs. Wisconsin on Dec. 5, 1979.
The continuation of his broadcasting career while simultaneously battling cancer at his advanced age has become a rallying point for college hoops fans, players, coaches, and fellow broadcasters along with many other figures in the game.
Vitale, who was treated for melanoma (skin cancer) in August before he was diagnosed with lymphoma, worked a high-profile game on November 23, No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 2 UCLA in the Empire Classic in Las Vegas. It was his first game back on the air after starting medical treatment for lymphoma.
It provided an emotional release for Dickie V, who handled analyst duties alongside play-by-play announcer Dave O’Brien.
“IT’S GREAT BEING HERE, DAVE. I DIDN’T WANT TO CRY,” VITALE SAID ON THE BROADCAST.
“I CAN’T BELIEVE I’M SITTING HERE. THIS IS REALLY A BIG THRILL FOR ME,” HE CONTINUED. “I WANT TO THANK ALL YOU PEOPLE, SENT ME SO MANY GREAT MESSAGES. ESPN (COMPANY CHAIRMAN) JIMMY PITARO, ALL MY BUDDIES AT ESPN. I WANT TO THANK, CERTAINLY, MY FAMILY AND ALL THE FANS, MY, YOU’VE BEEN UNBELIEVABLE.”
The game was a quintessential public appearance for Vitale. His timeless display of positivity was heartfelt. His battle with cancer is a public battle, because he embraces the public without hesitation and people naturally gravitate towards him.
The full article is posted here.