Emotional Dick Vital was next to court for his first broadcast after suffering from lymphoma.
The 82-year-old Vitale is playing No. 1 Gonzaga and No. 8 on ESPN Tuesday night. 2 broke up when UCLA opened for a college basketball game. His partner in the call, Dave O’Brien, said it was a “long, long-winded” game for Vital and it was “just great” to see him. Vitale said he did not want to cry, but took on the importance of the moment.
“I can’t believe I’m sitting here,” Vitale said, tears streaming down O’Brien’s arms around her. “It’s really a big thrill for me. I want to thank everyone who sent me so many good messages, [ESPN president] Jimmy Pitaro, all my friends on ESPN. I definitely want to thank my family and all the fans. My, you are incredible ”
Vitale revealed his diagnosis of lymphoma in October, three months after surgery for melanoma. He is in the middle of a treatment plan that includes six rounds of chemotherapy, but was given the opportunity to return to work by his doctor at Sarasota Memorial, Florida. Vitale’s broadcasting career began in 1979 and he is in his 43rd season on ESPN.
During Tuesday night’s broadcast, Gonzaga gifted him a jersey with a “Dickie V” and UCLA gifted him one that said “Never Give Up.” Vitale said he received a text from Yankees legend Derek Jeter before the game.
“Don’t believe that you can’t” in any war “!” Vitale tweeted before Tipoff.