Craig Sager passes away at 65
Legendary sports broadcaster and Northwestern alum Craig Sager passed away Thursday from complications of leukemia. He was 65 years old.
The Batavia, Ill., native attended Northwestern and was a basketball and football walk-on before injuries forced him off the teams during his freshman year. He became a cheerleader instead and worked mascot duty as Willie Wildcat, dressing up in the costume and prowling the sidelines at sporting events.
Sager graduated from Northwestern in 1973 with a degree in speech, and before long he was on some of sports’ biggest stages. At 22 he was the first reporter to interview Hank Aaron after the Atlanta Braves slugger broke Babe Ruth’s home run record in 1974. His sports broadcasting career would go on to span five decades, and his longtime coverage of the NBA lasted beyond his 2014 leukemia diagnosis. Sager’s appearances in arenas and on TV were almost always punctuated by his flamboyant suits and ever-changing outfits.
Sager returned to the NBA sidelines after he beat his original diagnosis into remission. When the cancer eventually came back, he continued to work as long as he could. Sager’s return to sidelines in arenas across the NBA was met with tributes from adoring players, coaches and fans. The longtime Turner sports reporter teamed up with an ESPN crew in May to call his first NBA Finals.
A lifelong Chicago Cubs fan, Sager got to see his favorite team win the World Series just over a month before he passed away.