Maura Mandt Dies: Legendary ESPN Producer Passes Away at 53

Maura Mandt Dead

Getty Mandt pictured in the build-up to the 2008 ESPY Awards.

Maura Mandt, a long time producer with ESPN, has died at the age of 53. ESPN executive vice president of content Connor Schell described Mandt’s death as “unexpected.”

In a statement, Schell said, “It’s difficult to understand how someone with such passion for life could be gone so suddenly. We will certainly remember her relentless pursuit of creative excellence, her courage in pushing boundaries, and the lasting legacy Maura left on the sports world. Most of all, we will remember her as a true friend to so many of us, and we will miss her dearly.”

Mandt produced ESPN’s award show, The ESPYs, through her own production company, MaggieVision Productions. Mandt began working on the show in 1996 as a production assistant when the ceremony was in its fourth year. In 2002, Mandt was named as executive producer of the show. Mandt was also one of the creators of the X Games. Mandt’s company took over the production of the show in 2006. In 2014, Mandt was one of the recipients of an Emmy Award for the ESPN 30 for 30 short, “Arthur & Johnnie.” During her career, Mandt won two Sports Emmy for her documentary work.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. In 2015, Mandt Was at the Front Line in Defending the ESPY’s Decision to Give the Courage Award to Caitlyn Jenner

Maura Mandt Dead

Getty Mandt attends the ‘We Are’ premiere during Tribeca Film Festival Shorts: Past Imperfect at Regal Battery Park Cinemas on April 17, 2016 in New York City.

In 2015, Mandt’s work became worldwide news when the ESPY Awards gave the Arthur Ashe Courage Award to Caitlyn Jenner, shortly after her transition. Mandt defended the show’s decision in an interview with Sports Illustrated saying, “It is very rare you get to tell a story that hopefully affects people and moves people and has meaning and makes a difference. At the same time if it attracts people from seeing it? We are not going to run away from that. Every person who has a cause needs a platform.”

Caitlyn Jenner's Moving Speech at the ESPY Awards | Nightline | ABC NewsStepping into the spotlight, Caitlyn Jenner (formally Bruce Jenner) was honored with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award for transcending sports during the ESPY Awards ceremony in Los Angeles. Her speech called out for respect of people within the transgender community. SUBSCRIBE for the latest news and updates from ABC News ► To read the…2015-07-16T07:35:48.000Z

Mandt also denied that the decision to give Jenner the award was not a rating ploy. Mandt also said in the interview, “I have spent 20 years working on this show and I take it very seriously. It is very rare you get to tell a story that hopefully affects people and moves people and has meaning and makes a difference. At the same time if it attracts people from seeing it? We are not going to run away from that. Every person who has a cause needs a platform.”

2. Mandt Was Described as ‘One of the Toughest, Hardest Working & Influential Women’ at ESPN

Maura Mandt

GettyMandt answers journalists during the preparation of the 2008 Epsy Awards at the Nokia Theater on July 15, 2008 in Los Angeles, California.

In the book, “Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN,” it’s written that Mandt is known as “one of the toughest and most influential women, and one of the more tireless workers, of either gender, to work at the sports network.” The book describes Mandt as giving the ESPY Awards “new energy and increased star power.”

One year, in order to get legendary NBA point guard Steve Nash to attend the show, Nash says Mandt bribed him by promising him a pitch meeting for a 30 for 30 idea. The idea became reality when “Into the Wind,” the story of Terry Fox, was released in 2010.

Among those paying tribute to Mandt was comedian Seth Meyers who tweeted, “Heartbroken by the passing of the great Maura Mandt. Worked with her on two ESPYs and she was the consummate producer – a kind collaborator in the run up and a take-no-prisoners winner on show days. As gutsy a person I’ve ever met.”

3. Mandt Told Craig Sager, While He Was in the Midst of Chemo, That He Was Receiving the Perseverance Award

Maura Mandt on The Dan Patrick Show (Full Interview) 11/4/162016-11-04T17:28:19.000Z

In the book, “Living Out Loud: Sports, Cancer, and the Things Worth Fighting For,” a book on the life of broadcaster Craig Sager, Sager said that it was Maura Mandt who called him on his wife’s phone while he was in the midst of receiving chemotherapy. Mandt was calling to tell Sager that he was receiving the Jimmy V Perseverance Award.

Maura Mandt Talks Stuart Scott on The RES – 1/7/152015-01-07T19:30:28.000Z

On her Twitter page, Mandt wrote in her bio section, “I try to do good. but I have opinions and they are strong. doesn’t mean I won’t listen. but I won’t accept “alternative facts.”

4. When Asked About Her Secret to Never Aging, Mandt Attributed it in Part to Letting Herself Cry

Maura Mandt Dead

GettyMandt and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar attend The 2019 ESPYs at Microsoft Theater on July 10, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.

In a poignant August 2019 Instagram post, Mandt was asked by one of her friends, “What is your secret to never aging?” Mandt responded by saying, “I surround myself with great people and love my job. And I let myself cry when I need to – releases the toxins. Also Hagen Daaz sorbet every day.”

Mandt’s final Instagram post was a photo of her and her team from MaggieVision at Vanity Fair’s post Oscars party in February 2019.

5. At the Time of Her Death, Mandt Was Involved in Producing ‘Marvel’s Hero Project

VideoVideo related to maura mandt dies: legendary espn producer passes away at 532020-02-29T13:45:47-05:00

At the time of her death, Mandt was producing the “Marvel Hero Project.” According to Marvel, the show deals with “young heroes are making in their own communities. These inspiring kids have dedicated their lives to selfless acts of bravery and kindness, and now, Marvel celebrates them as the true Super Heroes they are.”

ESPN veteran Ramona Shelburne tweeted her condolences saying, “Every time I talked to Maura she made an impression. Smart. Tough. Cared about the right things. Made big, visionary stuff happen. She’d talk to guys like Peyton, Aaron Rodgers, Kobe like a teammate. And they’d do it—because it was Maura asking.”

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