Editor’s note: As part of V Week, ESPN honors the life and legacy of ESPN anchor Stuart Scott on the fifth anniversary of his death. His memory lives on in his family and family Stuart Scott Memorial Cancer Research Fund.
His daughter Taelor is an aspiring filmmaker, director, and producer who has written and directed three short films: “Mod Squad and the spectacular paper capsule”, “Baltimore Whoosh” and “The Ballad of Chocolate Mabbie”. Sydni is a junior at Columbia University. She is studying political science and is a member of the athletics team.
Here they are writing to their father about its impact and what his legacy means to them. And yes, says Sydni, “he said ‘boo-yah’ at home too.”
Sydni: It was always so funny for me when people asked me if you were at home the same as you were on TV. Funny because you were the most unique person I had ever known and your TV personality wasn’t a made-up person but an extension of who you always have been as a person. But how could anyone understand that? How could I ever explain this?
And that’s the strange thing about you. There have never been adequate words to describe yourself and the way you have touched so many lives. And now there are no words to describe what it is like to continue to live in a world without you.
Taelor: Their influence on our lives can certainly still be felt. While I never managed to develop an interest in participating in it or playing it, I grew up with the culture of sport that was ingrained as an ESPN kid. I was the second baby born on the newly formed ESPN2. Take your child to work so I can get a cool new McDonald’s toy to add to my collection in your office. I might make a great spider web out of your ties as you type and blink at the words you wrote on your computer screen. On the way to our friends, we went through rooms with rooms with sports archives, buttons and screens. Former SportsCenter host Rich Eisen and producer Leslie Wymer gave me pennies to put in my big bag or to buy Boy Scout cookies. I have an early memory of how I was little, waking up in a crib in a dark office listening to you, your mother, and your friends talk after work. I fell asleep when you laughed at the door in a cubicle.
Sydni: Growing up there was no football without you. I can’t remember a time when you strapped me to the back seat of your car, my legs weren’t even long enough to touch the floor, and drove to games when the first pounding notes from the soundtrack ” Rocky “boomed from your speakers. Every single game. Always “Rocky”. And each time, I would excitedly ask you to turn up the volume until the bass rattled the frame of the car. After all, I was old enough to sit in the front seat and control the volume and song selection, and yet we still listened to every single game of “Rocky”.
When I was little it was just songs. Songs that have been vaguely associated with those films that you have always looked forward to so much. I run in Columbia now and every time I close my eyes, put my headphones in my ears and start warming up, the same booming notes pour out and I realize these songs are pieces of yours that I left behind for me.
Taelor: When I brought Taelor for work day, I was sitting on the floor in the corner of a large ESPN conference room during a production meeting. Writers, producers, and talent had gathered to discuss a retrospective of the life and implications of the great Muhammad Ali. The man was your idol, hung the moon and lit it in your eyes. You always proudly told me when you packed my diaper bag and took me to New York to see him and just see The Greatest. And there I was sitting that day in a room of television people and sports experts hired to do what seemed impossible: grapple with the ending of The Greatest.
Stuart Scott’s daughters Taelor and Sydni explain how much their father meant to them and how he always had a lot of energy.
In the end, you didn’t have to. He went after you.
Mom found the picture you took of me and Muhammad Ali about six months ago in a box with your belongings. He’s holding me and I’m crying and I’m guessing you’re out of the frame behind the camera too.
Sydni: There are still days when the idea of doing literally anything clearly seems unfathomable. Anything I achieve from getting out of bed to putting two feet on the floor to graduating from high school and starting college is something that is added to the long list of accomplishments you will never see . I can sometimes hear the sound of your voice like an elusive little melody that’s warm on the periphery of my body, but leaves me a little cold because I can’t quite reach it. Sometimes in my head I can understand exactly what you would say in a given situation. Your voice swells with the unbridled pride and excitement that was so strikingly decisive in determining who you were as a person. But I can’t see your eyes light up and I can’t feel your hug when I need it. And in every new thing I learn about the world around me and about myself, I grow but I grow away from the little girl you know.
Taelor: I hate going to sports bars now. It’s an idiosyncratic dislike, but for most of my life, there was a 60% chance I would hear your voice and see your face. Now when I see a couple of screens I can’t help but think about how lonely it is in comparison, and I’m half-waiting to hear your voice.
Sydni: You raised Taelor and me ambitiously. In a way, maybe too ambitious. I can remember the look on your face when you realized that when you wanted to raise girls with your own mind, you were at the same time raising girls who would disagree with you with as much passion as anyone else. But you wanted to send two women into the world, each with an unwavering confidence and an intrinsic understanding of the strength of their own voices.
You never let me win at card games You never talked to me like I was a kid. You never let me be too young not to do something. And while you couldn’t finish your job the way you intended, by the time you died you had taught me everything I needed to know, whether I knew it or not. It is my responsibility to finish your work on the things that continue to come to me, that I have learned from you every day.