Reynolds and Mount Tabor high schools planning tribute to Stuart Scott

Reynolds and Mount Tabor high schools planning tribute to Stuart Scott
January 08
00:00 2015

In photo: Stuart Scott on the “SportsCenter” set in 2000. ESPN Photo by Rich Arden 

Reynolds High School had been planning a special event on Feb. 6, and Stuart Scott, a longtime “SportsCenter” anchor and ESPN personality, was to take part.

Principal Patrick Olsen said Tuesday that changed with Scott’s death on Sunday, Jan. 4. He was 49.

Scott, a 1983 Reynolds graduate, was scheduled to be inducted into the school’s sports Hall of Fame. Scott, who was born in Chicago but moved with his family to Winston-Salem when he was a boy, played football and ran track at Reynolds.

Scott had fought cancer since a diagnosis in late 2007, according to ESPN, but remained dedicated to his craft even as he underwent chemotherapy, radiation and surgery.

“We hoped he would be strong enough to travel,” Olsen said. Now, officials from Reynolds and Mount Tabor High School, which is slated to face Reynolds on the basketball court that day, are working on a way to celebrate Scott on that date. Scott will still be inducted along with two others.

Olsen said that is a fitting night for the two schools to work together because Scott attended Mount Tabor in ninth and 10th grades and finished high school at Reynolds.

“We hope to make it a night to honor Stuart Scott,” Olsen said.

Stan Elrod, who coached Scott when he was an assistant football coach at Reynolds in the early ’80s, said he was the one who informed Scott, via voice mail message, that he was chosen to be inducted. Elrod, now the school system’s athletic director, said he and Scott remained in touch over the years.
“He was a very, very, special individual,” Elrod said.

He said people might know Scott from ESPN, but what they might not know is that he was “so genuine. He was that way in high school,” where he was vice president of the Student Government Association and a member of the Key Club.

“He was just totally involved and immersed in the school,” Elrod said.

Scott loved his schools – Reynolds and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – and his job at ESPN and loved to give back, Elrod said.

“He went out of his way to give back to his school, to his community because he loved them,” he said.
Elrod said Scott would call him to say that he should watch “SportsCenter” on nights he would give a shout-out to Reynolds.

One year, Scott even made a video to look as though the Frank Spencer Holiday Classic (a local basketball tournament) was being featured on “SportsCenter.”

Elrod said it was shown to the young athletes during a breakfast before the tournament.
When Scott accepted the Jimmy V Perseverance Award at ESPN’s ESPY Awards last July, Elrod emailed Scott to let him know how awed he was.

“Watching that man, knowing what he’s been through, watching him be so gracious and so giving, he became my hero that night,” Elrod said.

Scott’s death set social media ablaze, with many using Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to condole and share memories. Debra Terry, a local actress and comedienne, attended the University of North Carolina with Scott.

“I was a Lady of Black & Gold (a Sweetheart to Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity), and Stuart Scott said I was one of the reasons he pledged … Man, he could step. He was every bit as nice, sharp and as clever then as the sports world grew to know and love him,” she posted to her Facebook Page.

Raleigh-based journalist and filmmaker Cash Michaels took to Facebook to recall the day in 1987 that Scott, decked in a suit and carrying an attaché case and weeks away from graduating from UNC, strolled into WLLE-AM, where Michaels was program director, in search of a job.

“I had no job for the young man, but he and I spent at least an hour talking about his future, and how he could get into (t)he business. A few years later, I saw Stuart on the air at WRAL-TV as a reporter … (I’m) very proud to say that I was there at the very beginning … when a legend was born.”

In addition to Raleigh’s WRAL, Scott worked at two other Southern television stations before joining ESPN for the 1993 launch of its ESPN2 network, where he hosted short sports update segments.

He often anchored the 11 p.m. “SportsCenter,” where he would punctuate emphatic highlights with “Boo-ya!’” or note a slick move as being “as cool as the other side of the pillow.”

Scott went on to cover countless major events for the network, including the Super Bowl, NBA finals, World Series and NCAA Tournament. He also interviewed President Barack Obama, joining him for a televised game of one-on-one.

In 2001, Scott returned to Chapel Hill as the university’s commencement speaker. He implored graduates to embrace diversity.

“I know you want to make a difference. Keep this in mind as you do that. Remember the different walks of life you’ve seen here (at UNC), all the colors, races, religions, athletes, academic nuts, hippies, fraternity boys, sorority girls, different sexual make-ups. Understand whatever is different from you is just that – it’s just different … Given the way the world is changing, you absolutely cannot depend on stereotypes,” he said.

Scott was first diagnosed with cancer in November 2007 after he had to leave the “Monday Night Football” game between Miami and Pittsburgh to have his appendix removed. Doctors discovered a tumor during surgery. He underwent chemotherapy again in 2011.

Scott is survived by his parents, O. Ray and Jacqueline Scott; siblings Stephen Scott, Synthia Kearney and Susan Scott; his daughters Taelor, 19, and Sydni, 15; and girlfriend Kristin Spodobalski.

As Scott accepted his Jimmy V award, named for former N.C. State coach Jim Valvano, who died of cancer in 1993, he noted: “When you die, that does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and the manner in which you live. So live. Live. Fight like hell.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Donna Rogers

Donna Rogers

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