Earlier this Wednesday, August 10, several news outlets reported that the veteran ESPN broadcaster, and the host of “SportsCenter” John Saunders, had passed away at the age of 61.
The news of his passing first came from Hannah Storm, the ESPN anchor, and colleague of Saunders, who fought back the tears as she announced his death yesterday morning live from Rio de Janeiro, where she is currently covering the Olympic Games.
The Canadian announcer was a prominent figure in the network, covering several sports events for more than 30 years of career with the sports channel. He is going to be remembered for his distinctive voice and laughter.
John Saunders: sportsman and sportscaster
John Saunders was born in Ontario, Canada, in 1955, and like most Canadians, he loved hockey with a passion. Before becoming a sports commentator, Saunders had played defense in the junior hockey league, which would later take him to play college hockey.
He played alongside his brother Bernie Saunders on the Western Michigan University team back in the 70s, then transferring back to his home state to play at Ryerson Polytechnical. During this time, the late ESPN host also juggled gigs as a sportscaster in various cities.
“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,” said ESPN president John Skipper in an official statement regarding Saunder’s death.
Following his moving to Baltimore, ESPN hired Saunders in 1986 where he built a stellar career as a reporter and anchor for several shows, sports events, and broadcasts.
Saunders created the V Foundation for Cancer Research
During his time on ESPN, John Saunders had the opportunity to work alongside other excellent commentators and hosts, all of which had an impact on his life.
The most notable case is, of course, that of Jim Valvano, who was a co-host with Saunders in ESPN for several years and with whom he reportedly built a strong, solid friendship.
— Swin Cash (@SwinCash) August 11, 2016
Valvano passed away due to cancer back in 1993, which inspired the late Canadian anchorman to create The V Foundation for Cancer Research, an organization that featured Saunders as an active board member until his passing.
Saunders was notorious for hosting “SportsCenter” and, the Sunday morning show “The Sports Reporters.” Several ESPN colleagues and sports personalities have expressed their condolences on social media for the loss of such a prominent figure in sports journalism.
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) August 10, 2016
Details of his death have not been disclosed, which makes it all the more shocking since health issues or further information on his well-being were not public knowledge. Saunders leaves a wife and two daughters.