There are very few sports journalists in today’s world that we look up to and aspire to be like. ESPN’s John Saunders was surely one of those key figures during his 30-plus year run with the sports leader.
ESPN announced on Wednesday that the prolific Saunders has passed away at 61 years old.
“John was an extraordinary talent and his friendly, informative style has been a warm welcome to sports fans for decades. His wide range of accomplishments across numerous sports and championship events is among the most impressive this industry has ever seen,” ESPN president John Skipper said in a statement. “More importantly, John was a beloved and devoted family man who cared deeply about people and causes, as evidenced by his long-standing efforts as a passionate board member for The V Foundation for Cancer Research. He was one of the most significant and influential members of the ESPN family, as a colleague and mentor, and he will be sorely missed. Our thoughts are with his loved ones at this extremely difficult time.”
The tragic news was first broke by ESPN anchor Hannah Storm Wednesday morning.
It’s a tremendous blow for those of us who grew up watching Saunders on ESPN for the past three decades.
From his anchor desk on SportsCenter to replacing the late-great Dick Schaap on The Sports Reporters, Saunders was a figure we linked to the sports world.
Seemingly a kind man, his ability to touch on complex subjects while showing the intelligence and deep-thinking mentality that’s missing in today’s sports media world was second to none.
Prior to his death, Saunders was still actively involved in the ESPN brand, hosting The Sports Reporters and ABC’s coverage of college football.
Off the camera, Saunders worked to help those stricken with juvenile diabetes and is a founding member of the Jimmy V Foundation for Cancer Research.
Saunders is survived by his wife, Wanda, and two daughters, Aleah and Jenna.
The cause of death is not yet known. Our thoughts go out to Saunders’ friends and family as well as the entire ESPN community.