Holohan: Thanks, Stu

Published 3:46 am Saturday, January 10, 2015

I know it’s been almost a week, but I’d be remiss not to give my two cents.

Longtime and legendary ESPN SportsCenter anchor Stuart Scott, as we all know by now, passed away last Sunday.

His battle with cancer was a long and storied one.

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After being diagnosed initially in 2007, Scott fought three separate bouts of cancer, the last of which he did not survive.

But this is not a column to talk about his cancer. This is about celebrating the man and the impact he had on not just me, but sports journalism in general.

Why would I feel the need to write about this almost a week after his passing? Simple. Because I owe almost all of what I am doing now to him.

Granted, he or his family will likely never read this, but when I learned of the news on Sunday, I felt it my duty to give credit where credit is due to someone so important to me and the rest of the sports world.

When I go down my list of inspirations as a sports writer, the top two, among many others, are cemented for me forever: Jim Rome and Stuart Scott. And the two are interchangeable.

Growing up, I watched SportsCenter religiously. But to me, the show just wasn’t the same unless Scott was hosting.

With his innovative catchphrases like “Cooler than the other side of the pillow” and “Booya!” Scott was the kind of anchor that young viewers like me could relate to. It was like our friend was talking to us on television.

Every night, I would stay up as late as I possibly could just to see Scott rattle off sports highlights with his signature hip-hop flare and enthusiastic banter.

On days I was sick from school, I would rejoice. It meant I would be home to watch SportsCenter and hopefully catch Scott a few times during the day.

From those times, I can draw my first inklings of wanting to be a sports writer or sports broadcaster.

Obviously, no one is as cool or entertaining as Stuart Scott. But we can try.

So growing up, that was what I would do. Every day I would watch ESPN, I would study Scott, note his signature voice that bled through all of his highlights and hope that I could one day coin those signature catchphrases, and be as entertaining as Scott in my writing.

And from the looks of it, so did a lot of other writers. Watch any sports highlight on any network now and it is obvious — Scott inspired all of these people. The catchphrases, the silly jargon and that flare, none of that was there before Scott came into the industry.

Scott was ESPN’s first real attempt at attracting the minority demographic to their programing, and they couldn’t have chosen anyone better.

Now, as I find myself writing a column in his honor, I can’t help but be thankful and cherish this opportunity I have to honor him in the best way I know how — through writing. The very thing that he once inspired me to do.

It’s clear he had an impact on just about everyone who watched him or met him. Sunday was littered with tributes all over Twitter, television and newspapers.

Longtime co-anchor and now NFL Network host Rich Eisen did a heartbreaking but epic tribute to Scott in a Bengals-Colts highlight. If you haven’t seen it yet, do it now. Your heart will sing.

But let’s all just be honest with ourselves for a second.

There will never, ever be another like him. And there shouldn’t be.

Thanks, Stu. Heaven is cooler than the other side of the pillow now.