Dick Vitale was afraid he would weep before Tuesday’s marquee showdown between No. 1 Gonzaga and 2 UCLA. 2 UCLA.
The Hall of Fame college basketball analyst was right on the mark. As the lights switched on, the tears quickly flowed as the starting lineups were revealed in a rematch from last year’s historic Final Four matchup.
e Vitale was initially diagnosed with bile-duct cancer by doctors. The 82-year old thought that his days of shouting “awesome baby” were over. These days, Vitale was cured.
Vitale, play-by-play man Dave O’Brien and Vitale stated that they didn’t want them to cry on the ESPN broadcast. “I cannot believe that I’m here. This is a great thrill for me. I would like to thank everyone who sent me such wonderful messages. My family and all my fans deserve my gratitude. It’s been amazing.”
USA TODAY Sports spoke to Vitale before the game, saying that returning to the sport that he loves would be the best “medicine” and that he was just “jumping with joy”. His doctors have given Vitale permission to call games during his chemotherapy treatment. On Nov. 29, a body scan will show the full course of his chemotherapy and whether or not to increase it.
Vitale stated that he would not want to be anywhere but in college basketball.
Jimmy Pitaro, chairman of ESPN, stated prior to the game that Dick’s return to calling games was especially meaningful given all he has been through. We are there for him and can’t wait until we hear his unique combination of energy, insight and humor.