The Baron of BOO-YAH

Published 9:11 pm Saturday, January 10, 2015

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about life and death, especially since ESPN’s Stuart Scott died last weekend.

He was one of my oldest friends in television news. We worked together for almost three years at WRAL-TV in Raleigh, N.C. He was the weekend sports anchor while I was a news anchor/reporter. I did several weekend newscasts with him.

Back then he was just starting to weave urban slang into mainstream sports. He was one of the nicest and most upbeat people I knew.

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Stuart wasn’t afraid to take a creative chance. I used to think of him as the “Baron Of BOO-YAH.” He’d throw down that phrase and rock the studio and his audience. You couldn’t stop watching him. There was no telling what he’d say next, no way to predict when he’d say something nobody else had the nerve to say.

Stuart single-handedly changed sports broadcasting. He loosened things up, describing some superstar pro basketball player’s moves as being “as cool as the other side of the pillow.” One night after doing a newscast with him, I lay my head on mine, turned it and started laughing at how much cooler the other side of the pillow really was.

He said stuff your crazy uncle would say. “They call him the Windex man, ‘cause he’s always cleaning the glass.” On strikeouts: “You ain’t gotta go home, but you gotta get the heck outta here.”

I was amazed he actually got away with it. Phones in the newsroom lit up like Christmas trees. The end of the newscast was a veritable laugh fest. What a gifted soul.

But things weren’t always easy. Some newsroom managers detested his style. I’ll never forget the night one news director went ballistic in my presence. She berated Stuart over his colloquialisms. I stood in shock as she told him he was corny, that he’d never get anywhere in the business, how he’d never amount to anything in sports broadcasting.

Stuart, as he would say, “schooled me” that night. He never said a word in response. Just thanked her for her critique and went back to his desk.

My old friend ignored the manager into mediocrity. She’s been out of the business for years. He leaves us as a beloved icon, a pioneer who’s influenced every sportscaster coming up behind him.

The last time I talked to Stuart, he told me how he was coping with cancer. “I’m gonna keep doing what I do,” he said. His primary concern was staying alive for his two daughters. Isn’t it amazing what love will inspire in a man? He refused to give up.

I’d been told Stuart was close to death last weekend. The word made me reconsider life. It made me do something the Bible suggests: “Lord, teach me to number my days.” How much longer do any of us have? How do we want to spend those years, and with whom?

For many of us, there are fewer years ahead than behind. Do we have time to waste playing games or lingering with the wrong people? How many years can we expect to make a viable contribution to our professions?

Stuart maximized his moment. In honor of him, maybe we should maximize ours. Why not love completely, openly, without game-playing or deceit? Why not pamper, protect or spoil that special someone the Lord has given us?

My guess is Stu is somewhere saying “BOO-YAH, man! You’re as cool as the other side of the pillow!”

Dennis Edwards is an Emmy Award-winning television news reporter and anchor. He is a 1974 graduate of Suffolk High School. Email him at