ESPN sports commentator Stuart Scott died this weekend in Avon, Connecticut after a long battle with cancer just days after the new year kicked off.  Scott, a 21 year veteran at ESPN and the long time co-anchor of the network’s highly rated SportsCenter program, passed away Sunday, January 4 after fighting the disease for many years.

His ESPN career included coverage of the MLB playoffs and the NCAA Final Four basketball tournament in 1995, as well as the NBA finals for SportsCenter since 1997, according to the ESPN website.

Former Miami Heat star and current Cleveland Cavaliers player LeBron James expressed sentiments of disbelief on his Instagram account concerning the passing of Scott, a trailblazer in the world of sports. “Can’t believe you’re gone from us,” James wrote.  “Thank you so much for being (you) and giving us inner city kids someone we could relate to that wasn’t a player but was close enough to them.”

Reportedly, Scott was first diagnosed with cancer in 2007 after having his appendix removed and a malignant tumor was discovered. He was treated for the disease and went into remission but it returned four years later and again in January of 2013, according to  Scott said at the time that he didn’t consider himself courageous and that he was scared. The colorful and outspoken sportscaster said

that he wanted to be around for his daughters.

Scott was born July 19, 1965 in Chicago, Illinois and is survived by daughters Taelor Scott, 19 and Sydni Scott, 15, with ex-wife Kimberly Scott.  He spent most of his formative years in North Carolina where he went to Richard J. Reynolds High School in Raleigh. Scott then attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in speech communication. Scott also was a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, an historically black fraternity.

After college, Scott held several positions in broadcasting and in sports, including a job at WESH, an NBC affiliate in Orlando, Florida, before landing his SportsCenter anchor position at ESPN.  He widely covered the NBA and NFL for the network after being hired in 1993.   Scott was well known for such catchphrases as “boo-yah!” and “As cool as the other side of the pillow.”

President Barack Obama said in a statement released to ESPN that Scott helped usher in a new way of viewing sports that could be entertaining for everyone. “Twenty years ago, Stu helped usher in a new way to talk about our favorite teams and the day’s best plays,” Obama said.  “Over the years, he entertained us and in the end, he inspired us with courage and love.”

Obama added that following Scott on SportsCenter during his many travels around the world and across the country provided him with a sense of belonging and comfort.  “For much of those 20 years, public service and campaigns have kept me away from my family,” the president said.  “But wherever I went, I could flip on the TV and Stu and his colleagues on SportsCenter were there.”

Fellow ESPN sportscaster Stephen A. Smith said on his Twitter page that Scott was not only a great sportscaster, but also a great man. “Beyond being a great broadcaster, Stuart was a better father, a better person, a better man,” Smith said.  “(This is a) devastating loss for us all.”

Scott was the recipient of the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance at the ESPY awards on July 16, 2014, a few days before his 49th birthday. When accepting the award, he said that beating cancer transcends death.  “When you die, it does not mean that you lose to cancer,” Scott said. “You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner in which you live.”