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Thoughts On Stuart Scott's Passing, My Own Mortality, and New Year Resolutions

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Stuart Scott died Sunday morning. He was just 49 years old.

Scott's impact on how we watch modern sports is well-documented territory. I don't need to expound on it. However, his life, and death, had a particular impact on me personally. I was around 13 years old when Mr. Scott moved in across the street from me in Farmington, Connecticut.

I'd like to remember him as a "regular dude." I know. That sounds funny. I think he would've wanted to be remembered that way, to some extent.

You have to keep in mind that this was someone who was larger than life to sports fans. Some would say he was as, or more, recognizable than many of the athletes he covered over the years. But to me, he was the guy working on his short game (and cursing his clubs) in the front yard. He was the guy who shot hoops with me and the guy who brought his young daughter out to our street's summer block party. Genuinely nice and surprisingly approachable, I always deflected and dismissed detractors to his on-air persona amongst my friends. Because he wasn't just some guy on the TV. He wasn't that far removed from my daily life. He was right across the street. He was a real person dealing with real life on a daily basis. And his life crossed paths with my own, even if only briefly.

Mr. Scott eventually moved out of the neighborhood. I never saw him in person again after that. But he was never that far away, remaining a fixture on my television set and covering all of the major sports. Yes, sometimes even hockey highlights.

What was most amazing to me about Stuart Scott was that even as his personal health became a public news story, he persevered and brought his "A" game to everything he did. Whether you liked his style or not, his charisma and flair was unlike anyone else's.

As I learned about his battle with cancer several years ago, I began thinking more about my own mortality. It reaffirmed my need to focus on health and well-being. You see, I have battled ulcerative colitis for nearly 10 years. The disease, an auto-immune disorder that, in my case, affects the entire colon/large intestine (pan-ulcerative colitis) carries with it some terrible lifestyle consequences. It can rapidly reduce your quality of living and cause daily pain and weakness that will double you over at times. Not to get into gory details, but you spend A LOT of time in the bathroom.

Nobody really knows what causes it, though research on hereditary links have been done recently. The disease has an extremely high correlation with colon cancer after 8-10 years, and, if left untreated or out of control, may cause death. Approximately 1.6 million Americans live with the disease. If you would like to read more about ulcerative colitis and crohn's disease (or donate), please visit the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America.

Sometimes I share my condition with others, but I often keep it to myself. It's embarrassing. I have to remind myself that I shouldn't feel that way. That I have no control over it. But I do feel that way quite often.

Over the past month I have battled with a particularly difficult flare-up of symptoms from the disease. I don't always treat my own body as a temple that requires constant care. Constant diligence. I pride myself on pushing forward with my daily life. But sometimes I just "forget" that I have this thing inside me. This thing that is a part of me, really. A monster lying in wait, ready to attack for seemingly no reason whatsoever.

I have to remember that I've made a promise to myself to continue to improve my eating and exercise habits. I have to persevere in my efforts to improve the way I live my life, so that I can maximize it and fulfill the goals I have set for myself. It seems morbid, but Scott's death at the start of this New Year has reminded me that I have a resolution to keep. One that cannot simply be cast aside. One that I can't just pass on. My quality of life depends on it.

Stuart Scott lived as an example of perseverance and determination that should not be forgotten.

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

So live. Live. Fight like hell. And when you get too tired to fight, lay down and rest and let somebody else fight for you.

-Stuart Scott

Scott's legacy will obviously endure beyond his own mortality. I hope that I can do enough in my own life to endure as well. I have utmost respect for the man. For the way he lived his final years of life. For fighting like hell.

This tribute by folks over at ESPN was heartfelt and touching, as its creators knew when they made it that if it ever saw the light of day, it meant that their friend and colleague had passed.