By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Life has it’s ups and downs.
Although we are assigned family in our journey to the finish line, we cross paths with others who determine how far we can go in life. Some people we physically interact with and others impact us from afar.
In a week, I lost a journalism role model in Stuart Scott. Then four days later, my dear friend Brandi Hale-Devaughn gave birth to her first child Paisley Madison.
I went from feeling down on Jan. 4 reflecting on the career of Scott to this pure joy when I received a text message from newly-minted grandmother Nina Hale with a picture of a beautiful princess born on the King Elvis Presley’s birthday.
Then in a quick moment I found myself celebrating the birth of Paisley and the life of Scott. I know Paisley has been assigned a family full of love, tradition and strong values. And I pray as her “blacuncle,” I will be one of those friends who will help shape her life in a positive way.
Scott was one of those protons in my life. Back in 1993 he joined ESPN to help launch the new ESPN2.
As a 12-year-old child, I loved the network that broadcast sports nonstop. From live-sporting events to NFL Films, ESPN was within my vision or earshot 90 percent of the time. But until the arrival of Scott, I really didn’t see anyone who looked like me on the network.
By 1996 Scott was an anchor on SportsCenter with his tag team partner Rich Eisen. And just like Keith Olbermann and Dan Patrick, I had another duo that became “Must-See TV.”
Scott and Eisen had the late night shift during the week. During the summer they became like my cool uncles keeping me abreast on my life source of sports.
During this time it seemed all SportsCenter anchors had to have catch phrases. While Eisen introduced me to some mainstream reference from shows like ‘Seinfield,’ Scott was using phrases I could already identify besides “Boo-yah.”
The word that will be the strongest link to Scott, I had never heard until he uttered it for a home run during highlights.
But when he referred to Pokey and Ray-Ray at a block party, I was laughing thinking about my Aunt Pokey. Then some of his other trademark phrases like, “You Ain’t Gotta Go Home, But You Gotta Get The Heck Outta Here,” came from my favorite 90’s Thursday night show of ‘Martin.’
After awhile I knew when I would hear, “See, what had happened was. . . ,” “Cooler Than The Other Side of The Pillow,” or “They Must Call Him Butter, ‘Cause He’s On A Roll.”
Those words and the hard work of Scott made him a fixture at ESPN for 21 years. He went on to host the NBA Finals, game shows on the network and anchor the Monday Nigh Football coverage.
By that time I was used to a man who looks like me doing all those things. Scott packed a lot into his 49 years on this earth and has made a lasting impact on lives outside of his own family. The thing about being a journalist, you have a platform to inform and shine a spotlight on those deserving.
From ESPN to The Millington Star, there are people who count on media outlets to educate, inspire and connect them.
My job at The Star the past 11 years has connected me with many wonderful people. And now I have an adopted family in the Hales. And the person who introduced me to the family was a young Brandi.
We’ve gone from youth softball to her being a college graduate, wife and now mother. Life is a vapor and seeing the cute little girl grow into a woman who gave birth to an adorable bundle of joy brings tears to my eyes.
So I’ve cried tears of joy and sorrow this week. That’s life.
Life is Scott’s three battles with cancer giving many a reason to keep fighting. Life is saying hello to Paisley. Life is sharing, the good and the bad. We learn from each other in order to make the most out of our lives. I know Paisley has many wonderful, loving teachers starting with her parents. Then the rest of the family will help shape her hopefully into a classy lady like her mother, grandmother, Auntie Kelsey and great grandmother Betty.
Then friends and acquaintances will have some impact on Paisley. Those people might reach her through the airwaves, a monitor, pages or on a touch screen. And in honor of Scott, I’ll make sure as a journalist I will be genuine in my approach and remember this platform can be a life source for our community.
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