Long-time ESPN anchor John Saunders passed away on Wednesday morning.
The cause of Saunders’ unexpected death is not yet known. Saunders, who was 61, began his career at ESPN in 1986. In addition anchoring “SportsCenter,” he was also the host of “The Sports Reporters.”
Here’s more information about Saunders and his family.
1. Saunders Was Married to Wanda Saunders
The veteran ESPN broadcaster of over 30 years lived in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, with his wife, Wanda and children.
Like her husband, Wanda is an advocate for juvenile diabetes research.
Dick Vitale said Saunders’ wife and children were his “pride and joy,” in a message he posted to Twitter on Wednesday.
2. Saunders Is Survived By 2 Daughters
Saunders had two daughters, Aleah and Jenna. On his Twitter bio, he wrote in part that he is the “lucky daddy to two sweethearts.”
“John was an extraordinary talent and his friendly, informative style has been a warm welcome to sports fans for decades,” said ESPN president John Skipper in a statement.
“John was an extraordinary talent and his friendly, informative style has been a warm welcome to sports fans for decades. His wide range of accomplishments across numerous sports and championship events is among the most impressive this industry has ever seen,” Skipper said.
3. Saunders Is Remembered By Many As a ‘Family Man’
Skipper called him “one of the most significant and influential members of the ESPN family, as a colleague and mentor.”
There were many tributes on Twitter that described Saunders as a wonderful professional colleague, and true family man. ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt sent a tweet saying, “When John learned I was having a daughter, he was so thoughtful. So helpful. So JOYFUL in explaining a the role of a father to a little girl.”
4. He Once Said He Wanted His Daughter to Attend Kentucky
While attending the Dickie V Gala back in 2012, Saunders spoke about his daughter’s college decision. “I wanted her to go to University of Kentucky, because she would only have to go for one year,” he said, according to Kentucky Sports Radio. John Calipari, men’s head basketball at Kentucky coach responded, “She’d be a millionaire!”
This morning, Calipari took to Twitter to remember Saunders.
Saunders was a founding member of the Jimmy V Foundation, the cancer research foundation created by ESPN and inspired by Jim Valvano. He also served on the board of directors.
5. Aleah Is a Digital Artist
Aleah, 27, has a social media page at Deviant Art, a site for aspiring visual artists.
According to Aleah’s profile on Freelanced, she graduated from Fordham University with a degree in communications, and is currently a digital artist and cartoonist.
On her profile, she writes that she “would like to get serious about art” and would love to share her talent.
Saunders’ other daughter, Jenna, is a fashion designer who lives in New York City.