The Los Angeles Lakers, the NBA and the entire sports world are in mourning Thursday as longtime Turner Sports reporter Craig Sager died at the age of 65 after a long battle with a rare form of leukemia.
Known for more than just his crazy suits while on the sidelines of basketball games, Sager was beloved by everyone in his more than 30 years as a reporter. The way he fought his disease while demonstrating his passion for his job and his family has been used as inspiration throughout the country in recent years.
Turner Sports president David Levy released a statement about the death of Sager, talking about just how inspirational he was:
— TurnerSportsPR (@TurnerSportsPR) December 15, 2016
Former Los Angeles Lakers great Shaquille O’Neal, who was a colleague of Sager’s at Turner, mourned the death of Sager with a post on his personal Instagram account:
Current Lakers guard Lou Williams, who is in his 12th NBA season and has had the privilege of being interviewed by Sager, also took to Instagram to offer his condolences:
Numerous other players and colleagues have offered their condolences via social media including Lakers guard Nick Young who took to Instagram.
Sager was born on June 29, 1951 in Illinois, and burst onto the media scene in 1973 at the age of 22 when he interviewed Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Hank Aaron after he hit his then record 715th home at home plate.
He then became CNN’s premiere sports reporter, covering events like the NFL, the MLB, World Cup soccer and the Winter and Summer Olympics, just to name a few. But he found a home in the NBA when he joined Turner more than three decades ago.
Sager was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in 2014, and battled the disease as hard as any human possibly could. ESPN presented Sager with the Jimmy V Perseverance Award at the 2016 ESPYs. He gave a powerful speech at the awards show, saying that he will never give up and will live a life full of love and full of fun, the only way he knew how.
During his battle Sager underwent chemotherapy cycles more than 20 times and had three bone marrow transplants. He was admitted back into the hospital in late November 2016 and fell victim of the disease on Thursday.
Turner and ESPN joined together during the 2016 NBA Finals, giving Sager the opportunity to be a sideline reporter at an NBA Finals game for the first time in his career, something that was a life-long dream of his.