Veteran broadcaster Craig Sager loses to cancer, wins hearts
HOUSTON— Craig Sager never once thought about giving up as he battled cancer for more than two years.
“Man, life is too beautiful, too wonderful, there’s just too many things,” he said in late August. “It’s not just you. It’s your family and kids and all. Fight. Fight until the end. Fight as hard as you can.”
The end for the beloved TNT broadcaster came Thursday when the man known as much for his outrageous wardrobe as his relationships with the NBA’s elite succumbed to the disease he fought so hard to overcome. Turner Sports announced his death without disclosing details. He was 65 and had worked basketball games for TNT for nearly a quarter-century.
“There will never be another Craig Sager,” Turner President David Levy said. “His incredible talent, tireless work ethic and commitment to his craft took him all over the world covering sports.”
His son, Craig Jr., posted a loving video tribute to his father, tweeting: “We packed a lifetime and then some into these 28 years together.”
Sager’s passing brought out condolences from every corner of the NBA and Hall of Famer Larry Bird expressed what many were feeling.
“He was as identifiable with the NBA as any player or coach,” Bird said. “The league will not be the same without him.”
Magic Johnson echoed those sentiments on Twitter.
“The NBA family lost a legend who changed the way sideline reporters did their job. RIP Craig Sager,” Johnson said.
It wasn’t just the NBA community that mourned his passing , with Vice President Joe Biden and Drake expressing sadness at the loss.
Sager had two bone marrow transplants with his son as the donor before undergoing a third one from an anonymous donor at the end of August in Houston to fight an aggressive form of leukemia. To no one’s surprise, he was characteristically cheerful .
“It really isn’t all that painful, not physically,” he said then. “I think the hardest toll is mentally and emotionally. I have this thing of positive thinking. I think if you think something is going to be right and you think positive then you feel that way and if you feel that way you’ll act that way. I try not to get down.”
Sager announced in April 2014 that he had been diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, and he missed the playoffs and much of the following season as he underwent the first two transplants. Sager revealed in March 2016 that his leukemia was no longer in remission. He said doctors told him the typical prognosis was three to six months to live.
He was overwhelmed by how news of his fight spread and people across the world started talking about the Sager Strong campaign.
“At first was our family’s fight,” Sager said. “Then because of TV and TNT and people seeing me in the stands and I talk to people and then it got bigger and then that inner circle became an endless world to tell you the truth.”
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