Two Strangers I Will Miss

Stuart Scott passed away this morning. He was my favorite newscaster. He was the best anchor Sportscenter ever had, and for me, he will never be unseated. I didn’t know how much everyone loved him or how important he truly was until this morning. All I knew was that he was my favorite. He was “cooler than the other side of the pillow.”

It’s funny how important some people can be in your life, even when you have never met them. I went to a memorial service in one of my hometowns yesterday for another man I never knew. I learned a little about him while I was there, but surprisingly, I already knew a lot about him. His name was Bill “Doc” Stedman and he was the dad of one of my best friends in the world.

Dr. Stedman was a dentist in Vincennes, Indiana. He was a Marine, a husband, a father of two, and a grandfather of two twin girls. He was a blue grass musician. He was a bass fisherman. He was a fanatical high school and youth sports fan. He died last week at the age of 77. And he will be missed by a long, long list of people that actually did know him well.

Since we never really met, I am not really going to miss him. But I do regret not knowing him. I imagine I would have really liked him. I love his daughter, and she was daddy’s girl. She is special to a long list of people, and that list is growing every day. And that list of people has Dr. Stedman to thank for that. Doc, I’m sure you did a lot of great things, but none greater than raising my friend.

Boo-yah.

While I bet that Dr. Stedman never said that, ever, I got a little choked up this morning for the second day in a row over the passing of another important person I never met. My connection to Stuart Scott is far more remote and common. But the connection and its effect on me is similarly surprising.

I didn’t realize Scott was so revolutionary until today. I didn’t even realize that he brought the “hip hop culture” to the news desk. No one told me that was what I was watching. I didn’t realize how many cages he rattled at ESPN. He just seemed like my guy in charge. He was cool. He never made a mistake. He was funnier than the other stiffs that always seemed to be second fiddle to him. He was original. And he died today at the age of 49, so he belonged to my generation.

We often miss how profoundly people affect our lives until we have to look back and tally up the score. While Stedman and Scott were strangers to me, they both have meant a lot in my life. Stedman did most of his best work raising my friend before I met her. Scott made me enjoy hip hop culture without even realizing I was doing it.

I don’t remember when I heard him say it the first time, but Scott would describe an athlete who is going on a hot streak by saying “he must be butter cause he’s on a roll.” That long description ultimately got shortened to “straight butter.” Scott and Stedman were both straight butter.

Dr. Stedman never said “boo-yah.” I imagine that sounding funny coming from him at one of his blue grass jams. I think today we should retire the word. Nobody else sounds right saying it anyway.

Thank you to you both. I wish we could have met.