Those we have lost in 2016 shaped the lives of many

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, December 28, 2016

This year, many iconic celebrities that have influenced millions of lives either spiritually or professionally have passed away.

The loss of the legendary Craig Sager hit me hard. The colorful NBA sideline reporter was the face of the sport for years, and one of the best to ever hold the microphone courtside. Of course, Sager will be remembered for his flamboyant—and sometimes fluorescent—wardrobe, but as a sports journalist, he will forever be one of my icons because of his intelligence, work ethic and the brilliant questions he asked, which would help clear the viewers’ understanding of the game and educate those that were unfamiliar.

His speech while accepting the Jimmy V ESPY Award for Perseverance is forever burned into my memory. His words about his outlook on life while suffering from Leukemia, such as, “Time is simply how you live your life,” pack a lifetime of values into one simple sentence, and speak louder than the suits he wore.

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Although not as vibrant, John Saunders, ESPN sports broadcaster, was also lost in 2016. He guided me down the path of journalism through his charisma that attracted all eyes to the television, while his words kept them fixated.

Other celebrities that have passed this year like Kenny Baker, the actor inside the R2-D2 suit, and Carrie Fisher, the actress best known as Star Wars’ Princess Leia, shaped the imaginations of children and adults across the world.

We also lost singers who changed the way we listen to music, like the iconic Prince and the father of reinvention, David Bowie.

2016 was also full of the passing of athletes, some more premature than others. Jose Fernandez, the upcoming phenomenon pitcher for the Miami Marlins, died at the age of 22. Like Fernandez, the loss of All-Time Boxing Great Muhammad Ali struck a cord for many Americans. The loss of these lives and many more should add credence to the words of Ali, “Don’t count the days; make the days count.”