New Jersey’s Dick Vitale at 83 is a brilliant example of strength and courage
When it comes to Jersey strong and Jersey grit, very few would argue that New Jersey native Dick Vitale is the epitome of that moniker. His success in the sports world and hard-working commitment to both the college basketball community and his service to those in need are exemplary.
He’s always full of positive vibes that resonate to anyone within earshot. He’s Jersey through and through, born in Passaic, grew up in East Rutherford, graduated from Seton Hall and got his master's degree at William Patterson.
Dick Vitale attacked the game of basketball with the same reverence as how he lives his life. He encouraged, coached and mentored his players starting with his first coaching job at an elementary school in Garfield, New Jersey going on to coach at Rutgers, University of Detroit then going on to coach the Detroit Pistons in the NBA.
After his career with the Pistons, he went on to broadcasting college basketball on ESPN, having the distinction of broadcasting the first college basketball game on ESPN in 1979 — Wisconsin vs. DePaul.
Dick Vitale is in the New Jersey Hall of Fame because he is made of Jersey grit, heart and soul. Dick was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. He’s in the Little League Hall of Excellence and the Italian American Sports Hall of Fame, to name a few. There have been many more awards and accolades too numerous to list here.
Dick has also battled and beat cancer twice. At the age of 81, he beat two rounds of lymphoma and dysplasia, which attacked his golden signature vocal cords. At the age of 83 in August of 2022 he announced that he was cancer free. After that great news, he made an incredible announcement and returned to the job he loved, announcing college basketball games for ESPN.
I met Dick Vitale when he was the key speaker at a charity awards dinner where I was being honored along with CBS broadcasting legend Bill Rafferty. Dick made it a point to come over to me just to meet me and get to know me. I was floored that this living legend took the time to introduce himself and get to know me. After our 25-minute conversation, I felt that I had known him for years.
He was that kind of a guy and it was an honor to speak with him and share the dais with Bill Rafferty and Dick Vitale, two legends in the business and two great men.
Dick Vitale turned 83 in June. He is this country's youngest 83-year-old, never losing a step, always inspiring others and helping those in need through his relentless charity work. His catchphrase is “Awesome, baby” — and he is.
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 weekend host Big Joe Henry. Any opinions expressed are Big Joe’s own.
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