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A Nice Piece On Dick Vitale

The easy part of the man is the public persona but there’s a whole lot more.

Wake Forest v Maryland
COLLEGE PARK, MD - JANUARY 16: ESPN announcer Dick Vitale on air before a college basketball between the Wake Forest Deamon Deacons the Maryland Terrapins at Cole Field House on January 16, 1993 in College Park, Maryland.
Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Over at the New York Post, Ian O’Connor has a lovely piece up on Dick Vitale.

As you probably know, and we’re sorry if we’re the ones breaking the news to you, Dickie V is having his second bout of cancer, this time against lymphoma.

O’Connor does a great job here of illustrating Vitale’s life and driving forces and, most essentially, his toughness and sweetness.

On the one hand, the guy was driven to succeed in coaching, even though it came at a cost to his health and first marriage.

He applied that to his legendary broadcast career. If you want to see something funny, look up his very early broadcasts when he’s suppressing his goofiness. It’s somewhat like when Bill Walton used to wear suits to work. Vitale playing it straight is very odd to see.

What we’re more used to is seeing the man’s heart, and he has plenty of heart. His work on behalf of the V Foundation has been relentless and enduring and he’s raised huge amounts of money to honor Valvano and fight cancer.

He also threw himself into educating kids about drugs after the death of Len Bias. Some of those videos are incredibly powerful. He’s not lecturing, he’s preaching and imploring and you can see that the kids are listening intently because it’s not an act, not a hustle. They know he means every word.

There’s also the story of one of his star high school players, Les Cason. Vitale tried to convince him first to take school seriously, then to stay away from a bad crowd. Finally, when Cason was dying and Vitale was still trying to help him, he said Vitale “did everything he could for me.”

He’s a bit odd and his exuberance at times is off-putting, but at the end of the day, on some level, he wins everyone over.

O’Connor says Vitale’s shooting to make it to 100 and to broadcast a game on ESPN. It would be so cool if he made it. Among other things, it would mean that he kicked cancer’s ass to the curb.