SportsCenter host John Saunders dies at 61

(ABC News)

(ABC News) — John Saunders, the acclaimed ESPN reporter and anchor for almost 30 years has died at the age of 61.

Saunders covered everything from basketball to hockey to basketball, all while anchoring the popular sports news show SportsCenter. He also hosed the show The Sports Reporters.

Saunders was born and grew up in Canada where he starred as a hockey defensive player in his youth, before moving on to play college hockey at Western Michigan. He then transitioned into sportscasting to become one of the most successful sportscasters of his era.

Saunders also served as a founding member of The V Foundation for Cancer Research and was on the organization’s board of directors.

“John was an extraordinary talent and his friendly, informative style has been a warm welcome to sports fans for decades,” John Skipper, the president of ESPN and co-chairman of Disney Media Networks, said in a release. “His wide range of accomplishments across numerous sports and championship events is among the most impressive this industry has ever seen. More importantly, John was a beloved and devoted family man who cared deeply about people and causes, as evidenced by his long-standing efforts as a passionate board member for The V Foundation for Cancer Research.”

Skipper continued, “He was one of the most significant and influential members of the ESPN family, as a colleague and mentor, and he will be sorely missed. Our thoughts are with his loved ones at this extremely difficult time.”

Saunders began at ESPN in December 1986 as an anchor on SportsCenter. He eventually became a major voice on college basketball, the WNBA and the NHL. He also covered Major League Baseball events like the World Series and the All-Star Game.

Saunders is survived by his wife and two daughters.

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