Austin Denton, Inspirational Cancer Survivor, Dies at 18

Austin Denton

Getty Denton pictured at the 2018 NFL draft.

Austin Denton, the inspirational cancer survivor and advocate for St. Jude’s Hospital, has died at the age of 18 in New Mexico.

Denton passed away on the morning of December 17, a press release from the New Mexico Activities Association. Denton’s said in a video he appeared in for St. Jude’s Hospital in Memphis, “I may be in a wheelchair, I may only be able to walk on crutches or a walker, but that doesn’t stop me from doing what I want to do.

At the age of 2, Denton was diagnosed with a rare spinal cord tumor. Denton had been in remission for more than 10 years at the time of his death. Since his diagnosis, Denton had limited mobility and used a wheelchair to get around. I don’t let physical limitations cross my mind at any time.”

Here’s what you need to know:

1. Denton Interviewed Peyton Manning Prior to Super Bowl 50

Denton was a passionate Denver Broncos fan. In 2018, Denton announced the team’s first draft pick, Bradley Chubb, at that year’s draft. Denton’s presence at the draft was organized by St. Jude’s Hospital.

Prior to Super Bowl 50, Denton interviewed the team’s then-quarterback, Peyton Manning. Denton was introduced by Deion Sanders before asking a few questions and throwing back to host Rich Eisen.

2. Denton Had Been Working for His Local ESPN Affiliate Since He Was 14 Years Old

Denton was a broadcaster on ESPN Albuquerque 1017 and on Pro View TV. Denton had a profile on the ESPN Albuquerque’s homepage. Denton began working for the affiliate in 2016.

In March 2018, Denton was the recipient of the 2018 Section 6 National High School Spirit of Sport Award. Denton said of winning the award in an interview with the Albuquerque Journal, “It definitely means a lot to me. I was very honored to receive this award from the NFHS and I can’t thank the (New Mexico Activities Association) enough for nominating me for this award.”

3. Denton Was Known as the ‘Voice’ of His High School

He was a graduate of La Cueva High School in Albuquerque. During his time in high school, Denton was known as the voice of “La Cueva High, thanks to his sports announcing. Denton told the Albuquerque Journal in May 2019 that he called “too many [games] to count.” The final game he called for the school was a baseball game in May.

Trusting a Dream | Ep. 8Austin suffers the battle-scars from his 15-year fight with a rare spinal cord tumor. It has left his movement impaired, but not his will. He trusts in a dream—that one day his voice will sound across millions of screens as a professional sports broadcaster. Watch to see him surmount his physical limitations to make his…2019-11-04T17:38:17.000Z

Denton also served as the school’s sports team’s social media director. When asked by the newspaper where he would be in 10 years, Denton said, “I just hope I’m sitting in a broadcast booth somewhere.” In 2016, Denton spoke about his philosophy when speaking to a reporter from ABC New Mexico. Denton said, “Even if you’ve got some kind of challenge or disability or some sort of thing, just go for it. I mean, there’s nothing standing in your way.”

4. Denton Hoped to One Day Study Journalism at Arizona State University

Austin DentonHe just needs to pop into Walgreen's right quick.2016-02-19T01:34:02.000Z

On his Twitter bio, Denton said that he planned to be a student journalist at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Denton, previously active on Twitter, had not tweeted since October 2018.

Denton also maintained a blog, Sports Any Time. The last blog post on that page came on November 1 and was a preview of the “UFC 244” pay-per-view event.

5. Denton Is Being Remembered as Some of New Mexico’s Biggest Sports Teams & Personalities

As news of Denton’s sad passing spreads, many of New Mexico’s sports teams and personalities have been paying tribute. Here are some of the most poignant messages of remembrance:

While speaking to the Albuquerque Journal, La Cueva High School’s football coach, Brandon Back, said of Denton, “To me he was just a perfect example of resiliency based on what he went through with his childhood cancer. He was left with limited mobility and to get around he was in the wheelchair. He loved athletics and loved to be a part of it all. He knew he couldn’t be on the field, so he did everything he could to be a part of the team. His dedication and hard work to make this program great is something that will last for a long time. He never made an excuse. He showed up every day.”

The president of ESPN 101.7, Joe O’Neill, said of Denton, “It was a privilege to have Austin Denton as part of our ‘TEAM.’ He was an integral part of our High School broadcasts. The passion and drive he exhibited embodies the spirit of sport and Austin Denton was a winner. Everyone at ESPN Radio 101.7 will miss his enthusiasm and friendship.”

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