Amid all the joy and jubilation from Rio 2016, there is a touch of sadness in the sports world. John Saunders, the longtime ESPN host, has passed away. The former ‘SportsCenter’ anchor’s death was confirmed on Aug. 10. He was 61.
Details about the nature of John’s death were unclear, but sources tell TMZ that the sports commentator and ESPN personality suddenly passed away in New York and that there is no suspicion of foul play. The sports network quickly mourned the loss of such a cherished man.
“John was an extraordinary talent and his friendly, informative style has been a warm welcome to sports fans for decades,” ESPN’s president John Skipper said in the wake of the heartbreaking news, according to HollywoodLife.com’s sister site, TVLine. “His wide range of accomplishments across numerous sports and championship events is among the most impressive this industry has ever seen.”
“He was one of the most significant and influential members of the ESPN family, as a colleague and mentor,” John added, “and he will be sorely missed. Our thoughts are with his loved ones at this extremely difficult time.”
John was born in Ajax, Ontario, Canada on Feb. 2, 1955. While growing up in Canada, he played in the Montreal junior leagues, receiving a hockey scholarship to Western Michigan University. He transferred to Ryerson University in Toronto and he began his broadcast career in Ontario. He worked as the news director for CKNS Radio and the sports anchor for CKNY-TV.
In 1982, he moved to the States, working for WMAR-TV in Baltimore before joining ESPN in 1986 to host The Sports Reporters. From 1987 to 1989, he co-hosted NFL Primetime and hosted the network’s NHL broadcasts up until 2004. As a play-by-play commentator, he covered ABC’s college football and ESPN’s baseball coverage. In 2008, he began hosting the Sunday SportsCenter during the NFL season.
Prior to his heartbreaking passing, John lived in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, with his family. He is survived by his wife Wanda, and his daughters, Aleah and Jenna.
Our thoughts are with John’s family, friends and fans during their time of loss.