Craig Sager died at the age of 65 on Thursday following a lengthy battle against acute myeloid leukemia. Sager had been an NBA sideline reporter for Turner Sports television for more than 40 years, and his court side presence will be sorely missed. Craig Sager's famous colorful suits and enthusiasm elevated his interviews with players and coaches, and his flamboyant style will not be forgotten.
Thursday's weekly Turner Network Television's coverage of the National Basketball Association began with a tribute to Craig Sager, with Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr leading a "moment of joy" in honor of the famed sportscaster.
"We thought it would be more appropriate, given the way Craig lived his life and the joy that he brought to so many people, to have a moment of joy instead. So I'd like all of you to join me in an applause for a great man and a life well-lived. Thank you."The entire broadcast was dedicated to Craig Sager's memory with NBA stars like Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith, and Shaquille O'Neal joining Casey Stern in sharing memories of the TNT star commentator. In dedication to Sager's indomitable spirit and flamboyant style, the Golden State Warriors and Nike will release limited edition shoes and t-shirts for sale, with proceeds going to cancer research.
During his 32-month illness, Sager and his wife Stacy founded the #SagerStrong Foundation to raise money into leukemia research. The Foundation has also released two t-shirts for sale, promising a portion of the sales to charity in Craig Sager's memory. The shirts, which evoke Sager's wild suits, were revealed on Thursday with NBA stars donning the duds. At the season opener for the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena every seat was draped with a t-shirt printed with Sager's likeness as fans put away their regular jerseys to pay tribute to a sideline superstar.
"We are so grateful Craig chose to share his journey with us and the entire cancer community. Through his words, his resiliency and his boundless optimism, Craig inspired us to work together and relentlessly to end cancer as we know it."Sager recently wrote a book, Living Out Loud: Sports, Cancer and the Things Worth Fighting For, with his son, Craig Sager II, and in it he recounts his difficult struggle with cancer and exhibits his infamous positive attitude, "I wanted to inspire, I wanted to let people know that no matter what they were going through, if they simply had the right attitude, they could make it."
"Cancer is a journey, and it's not easy. But you can't do it without faith and hope. They're as important as air and water. Have faith in your doctors, faith that they will find a cure. Hope is not being naïve or in denial. It's the foundation of everything I do."While Twitter exploded with memories and condolences following the announcement of Sager's death, one of the most meaningful statements came from San Antonio Spur's coach Gregg Popovich. Popovich and Craig Sager were known for their mutual teasing and entertaining interviews, but the jabs did not diminish their deep friendship. Popovich was overwhelmed with emotion and visibly shaken on Thursday remembering his longtime colleague, "He loved people. He enjoyed pregames, postgames. He loved all the people around him, and everybody felt that. So, the most amazing part of him is his courage. What he's endured, the fight that he's put up, the courage that he's displayed during this situation is beyond my comprehension. If any of us could display half the courage he has to stay on this planet - to live every life as if it's his last - we'd be well off. I'll miss him very much."
Craig Sager died on Thursday of leukemia after three bone-marrow transplants and more than two years of treatments. He is survived by his wife, Stacy, and his five children: Riley, Ryan, Kacy, Craig Jr. and Krista. Craig Sager, the man with the suits, was 65.
[Featured Image by David Banks/AP Images]