Dick Vitale suspected he would cry ahead of news of Tuesday night’s showdown between No.1 Gonzaga and No.2 at UCLA.
The Hall of Fame varsity basketball analyst was on hand. Tears immediately flowed as the lights came on after the starting XI in a rematch of last season’s historic Final Four showdown.
Vitale is back on the sidelines calling the sport he has been advertising for 43 years between two chemotherapies to treat his lymphoma, diagnosed in October. Doctors initially diagnosed Vitale with biliary cancer and the 82-year-old found his time screaming “great, baby!” were finished.
“I didn’t want to cry,” Vitale said on ESPN alongside Dave O’Brien. “I can’t believe I’m sitting here. It really is a big thrill for me. I want to thank everyone who sent me so many great messages. I want to thank my family and all the fans. have been amazing. “
Vitale told USA TODAY Sports ahead of the game that returning to the sport he loved would be the perfect “medicine” and that he was “jumping for joy.” His doctors have given him permission to organize matches between his chemotherapy throughout the 2021-22 season. A body scan on November 29 will reveal her full chemotherapy treatment and whether to step up the drugs.
“I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else, sitting next to my second family,” Vitale said of the college basketball community.
ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro said ahead of the game: “Given everything he’s been going through, it’s especially important for Dick to return to games. He has our full support and we can’t wait to hear its unique combination of energy and insight. “
A longer and in-depth interview with Vitale will appear on sports.usatoday.com later this week.