RALEIGH, N.C. (Reuters) - Longtime ESPN sportscaster Stuart Scott, known for his wildly popular catchphrases including “boo-ya” and “as cool as the other side of the pillow,” was remembered at a funeral service on Saturday for his originality and sense of humor.
Scott died on Jan. 4 at age 49 after a long battle with cancer. After being diagnosed in 2007 following an emergency appendectomy, Scott fought through three bouts of the disease, ESPN has said.
During more than two decades with the network, Scott anchored ESPN’s news program “SportsCenter,” where he introduced many of his signature catchphrases.
Scott was known for injecting slang and enthusiasm into his work. He covered major sporting events such as the NBA Finals, the Super Bowl and the World Series and interviewed major sports figures, celebrities and even President Barack Obama, who has said in a statement he will miss Scott.
Hundreds of people gathered at the Providence Baptist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina, on Saturday in memory of Scott. The attendees included members of the alternative rock band Sister Hazel, who played one of Stuart’s favorite songs, “Champagne High.”
Friends recalled stories of Scott’s love of a good laugh.
“He was always himself,” said his friend Deedee Mills. “He did not care what anybody else thought about him. He was going to be himself without any apologies.”
Scott’s older sister, Susan, recalled that as a young boy, Scott had trouble pronouncing certain letters and so created his own personal language. He grew into a devoted father who took time to play with his children and could recite all of the classic musical “West Side Story.”
“He loved words and language,” she recalled.
Scott was born in Chicago and attended high school and college in North Carolina. He worked as a local television reporter in several states before joining ESPN in 1993.
“When you die, that does not mean that you lose to cancer,” Scott said in his acceptance speech for the Jimmy V. Perseverance Award in July. “You beat cancer by how you live.”
Scott’s survivors include his parents, his two teenage daughters, three siblings and longtime girlfriend Kristin Spodobalski.
He was laid to rest at Raleigh Memorial Park. His family asked that donations be made in his name to the Jimmy V. Foundation, which funds cancer research.
Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis and Andrew Hay