RIP Stuart Scott. Thanks for the inspiring speech.


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Unless you plan it out in detail or are sitting on death row none of us know when it’s going to happen, but it’s gonna happen.

Most people will agree that everyone is on a mission to live as long as possible. Some take this seriously by exercising and watching what they eat. Others are just as serious about living long but don’t take extra efforts to exercise and eat healthy. This could be because of cultural or economic constraints that don’t allow them the time to train or shop at a Whole Foods. A 300 pound mom taking her 5 year old to McDonalds doesn’t want her child to die just as much as a very fit mom that takes her kid on a Saturday morning bike ride doesn’t. In any event, my point is that regardless of your lifestyle life is precious and valued to most of us. So if we all value life and don’t know when it will end why do we allow ourselves to fall into traps that prevent us from pursuing our passions?

The death yesterday of 49 year old ESPN sportscaster Stuart Scott wasn’t unexpected for him and his family. Scott was diagnosed with cancer years ago and ever since he has been fighting a battle to prolong the same life that most of us take for granted. As he battled he didn’t take anything for granted and he eloquently gave an inspirational speech this past July at the Espy Award Ceremony.

I watched his speech live and it reminded me of Jim Valvano’s speech many years earlier at the 1993 Espy’s. Valvano too was diagnosed with cancer and died shortly after his speech at the age of 47. As inspiring speeches go I always considered Lou Gherig’s “Luckiest Man” speech and Valvano’s Espy speech the 2nd greatest. Stuart Scott is now in that conversation.

These three men – a player, a head coach, and a sports reporter- all tapped into that one constant anyone affiliated with sports has – courage. They had the ability to face our biggest opponent face to face and never back down.

Lou Gehrig knew he was given a “bad break” but that he had “an awful lot to live for”. Jim Valvano speech was full of inspiration reminding us to laugh, think, and cry daily. The last words he said were “I know, I gotta go, I gotta go, and I got one last thing and I said it before, and I want to say it again. Cancer can take away all my physical abilities. It cannot touch my mind, it cannot touch my heart and it cannot touch my soul. And those three things are going to carry on forever”.

Gehrig and Valvano fought like hell to live and years later after their deaths the world is benefiting from foundations they started and inspired.

And now yesterday, Start Scott’s physical battle ended. In Scott’s speech he said:

When you die it does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner in which you live.

Stuart also reminded us how important it is to know that you are never fighting alone and acknowledged the many people in his life that had his back. He tells us to “Fight like hell. And when you get too tired to fight, then lay down and rest and let somebody else fight for you…I can’t do this ‘Don’t Give Up’ thing all by myself.” Is there someone in your life that could use your help?

What makes these brave men positive as they live with death so prevalent in their lives? Where does that fighting spirit come from? I’m in awe of all of them. All 3 of these men were famous and had a stage to speak from. They chose to use their platform to remind us about the unpredictable nature of life and that each moment should be cherished. The beauty of what they did is that their speeches are a gift to all us. They forever live on YouTube. If you are fighting a disease they remind you to keep fighting because it’s worth it. Keep fighting because life is beautiful and you have an obligation to cherish it. And if you aren’t sick, their speeches are a reminder on how to live life for today and chase your dreams. Gehrig, Valvano, and Scott are very well-known to many but the world is full of moms, dads, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, and cousins who are fighting the tough fight quietly. They are all heroes for not giving up!

A few months ago we lost Diem Bown of MTV fame who publicly fought her battle against cancer. Her very last message on twitter hours before she passed was:


Diem was another fighter that refused to quit and took every opportunity to talk about her battle and love for life. She also started her own foundation called MedGift to help others fight their battles.

In a world of chaos where life is devalued in places like the always at war Middle East or the southside of Chicago, I find the Stuart Scotts and Diem Browns of this world extremely inspirational. They choose to remind us that living life isn’t that complex if we all wake the fuck up and respect that it can end at any moment. If we all thought like Gehrig, Valvano, Scott, or Diem who would really give a fuck about the bullshit drama we let control our lives? It shouldn’t have to take a cancer diagnosis to get you to write a bucket list and start living life.

I heard that Chinese Buddhists believe that every man dies twice: one time when you take your last breath and a second time when somebody says your name for the last time. That said, we can all be immortal if we live unforgettable lives. Booyah!

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