2016 just couldn’t end without claiming another of the greats. Longtime reporter and broadcaster Craig Sager lost his battle with leukemia Thursday. He was 65.
Sager leaves behind his wife, Stacy, along with five children, Riley, Ryan, Kacy, Craig Jr. and Krista and of course, a legion of fans.
Sager’s memorable career began in the most humble of ways, as a mascot at Northwestern University. After getting his chance as a player, Sager walked on to the football and basketball teams, switching to cheerleading due to injury.
His televisions career began as a weatherman of all things down in Tampa, FL, then beginning a career covering his true passion, basketball. The charismatic Sager become an Atlanta staple, telecasting for the Atlanta Hawks, later moving on to broadcasting and sideline reporting for TNT for the entire NBA, where he would become of the best, most popular to ever do it.
Though remembered for his contribution in the sport of basketball, Sager’s resume includes that of working in horse racing, the NFL, college football, the World Series, college basketball, the World Cup of soccer, as well as golf, specifically the Masters. Sager also covered various Olympics Games. Sage was able to report the first NBA Finals of his career in a gracious show of compassion during Sager’s fight with cancer, with ESPN and TNT allowing the conflict of interest over rights to bypass and allow Sager to cover a game.
What Sager was known for especially, was his wardrobe. The eccentric, colorful, mis-matching suits were a staple of his persona, allowing him to become one of the most recognizable reporter in sports.
Sager’s battle with cancer lasted almost three years after announcing he had leukemia back in 2014, having to miss the entire season that year to undergo treatments. Upon his return, he gained a new following. Social media made him a star under the hashtag #SagerStrong.
At the ESPY’s, Sager received the Jimmy V Award, given to those who “overcome great obstacles through perseverance and determination.” In his acceptance speech during the ESPYs, Sager vowed to “keep fighting.”
The Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame announced it would include Sager in its 10th Class to be inducted Dec. 13 in New York.
‘I have run the bases with Hank Aaron after No. 715, thrown out the first pitch at Wrigley Field, graced the cover of ‘Sports Illustrated,’ and received the Jimmy V perseverance Award at the ESPYs. I have covered eight Olympiads, dozens of Super Bowls, 24 Masters, and NBA games too numerous to count.
“I continue to live life full of love and full of fun the only way I know how.”