Craig Sager is one of the most respected sideline reporters in sports and he is well known for both his colorful attire and personality. Given a life-changing diagnosis of leukemia in 2014, TNT’s hard-working veteran returned to the sidelines in 2015 and continues to publicly battle the disease while remaining committed to the work he loves. ESPN today announced that Sager will be honored with the Jimmy V Perseverance Award on July 13 at The 2016 ESPYS presented by Capital One on ABC.
“When I was diagnosed with cancer, like so many other people, my life changed forever,” said Sager. “Over the last two years, I’ve done everything in my power to live my life as normally as possible. But at times, you need support and I’m so thankful to everyone who has been there for me.”
Sager continued: “One of those pieces of inspiration has come from Jim Valvano himself. I have his speech saved on my phone and, now 23 years later, its impact lives on with me and countless others. There is no greater honor than receiving this award and I am very humbled.”
Executive producer Maura Mandt said: “Craig’s positive attitude and passion have always been cornerstones of the coverage he does for TNT and those attributes are a large part of what endears him to fans. He serves as an inspiration to many as he continues his work while battling this devastating disease.”
Long known for his unique wardrobe and pithy sideline interviews, Sager is in his 24th season as sideline reporter for the NBA on TNT including the network’s regular season, NBA All-Star and NBA Playoffs coverage. Sager was a first-time nominee for a Sports Emmy Award for Outstanding Sports Personality – Sports Reporter in 2012. Upon receiving his diagnosis in early 2014, Sager publicly vowed to continue reporting asserting that his work is a tonic that gives him strength to face his battle. He’s currently undergoing clinical trials at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
“While there are many colorful figures across the world of sports, Craig is a star that has always shined a bit brighter than others,” said Connor Schell, senior vice president, ESPN Films and Original Content, who oversees The ESPYS. “His dedication to continuing the career he loves in spite of this difficult illness is the very definition of perseverance and we’re proud to honor Craig at this year’s ESPYS.”
From 2002-2006, Sager was a sideline reporter for TBS’ Pac-10/Big 12 college football coverage and was a reporter for TBS’ coverage of the MLB Postseason from 2007-2013. Sager has served as a sideline reporter for Turner and CBS’ joint coverage of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship since 2011. In 2009, Sager served as a course reporter during the PGA Championship on TNT and PGA.com.
A native of Batavia, Ill., Sager walked on Northwestern University’s football and basketball teams and served as the university’s “Willie the Wildcat” mascot for three years. Sager began his broadcast career in 1972 at WXLT-TV in Sarasota, FL, and worked in several sports roles before joining CNN in 1981 after handling the network’s first live remote report from the 1980 MLB Postseason. Sager reported from six different Goodwill Games around the globe and served as a reporter on TNT’s NFL pre-game, halftime and post-game shows from 1990-97.
The Jimmy V Perseverance Award was named after, and inspired by, the late Jimmy Valvano who became the award’s raison d’être at the 1993 ESPYS. While battling cancer, Valvano gave an emotional acceptance speech that included his famous words “Don’t Give Up . . . Don’t Ever Give Up!”®. Valvano passed away less than two months later, but his words were never forgotten. The Jimmy V Award is given to a deserving member of the sporting world who has overcome great obstacles through perseverance and determination. In 2007, Women’s College basketball coach Kay Yow became the very first recipient of the Jimmy V Award. Past recipients include Eric LeGrand, Anthony Robles, George Karl, Dick and Rick Hoyt, Stuart Scott, and Devon and Leah Still.
About The V Foundation
The V Foundation for Cancer Research was founded in 1993 by ESPN and the late Jim Valvano, legendary North Carolina State basketball coach and ESPN commentator. Since inception, The V Foundation has funded more than $130 million in cancer research grants nationwide. It awards 100 percent of all direct cash donations to cancer research and related programs. Due to generous donors, the Foundation has an endowment that covers administrative expenses. The Foundation awards peer-reviewed grants through a competitive awards process strictly supervised by a Scientific Advisory Board. For more information on The V Foundation or to make a donation, please visit www.jimmyv.org.
About The ESPYS
The ESPYS gather top celebrities from sports and entertainment to commemorate the past year in sports by recognizing major sports achievements, reliving unforgettable moments and saluting the leading performers and performances. The 2016 ESPYS will recognize both sport-specific achievements, such as “Best MLB Player” and “Best WNBA Player,” and best-in-sport winners, such as “Best Team” or “Best Female Athlete” that pit nominees from different sports against each other. The ESPYS support ESPN’s ongoing commitment to The V Foundation for Cancer Research, launched by ESPN with the late Jim Valvano in 1993.