The sudden, shocking death of ESPN’s John Saunders stunned the sports media world and the many, many fans of his work on Wednesday. Those who worked with him at ESPN and ABC expressed condolences and paid tribute to their colleague on social media.

But in the hours that have passed since the news became public, while feelings over the loss have been processed, some of Saunders’ friends and co-workers have been able to collect their feelings, recall their memories and honor him on television.

First and foremost among those tributes is from ESPN, with a video package of photos and clips written and narrated by Bob Ley. Those who have followed Saunders’ career — seemingly throughout our lifetimes as sports fans and ESPN viewers — will surely smile at some of the older footage included in this piece.

Saunders may never have been considered the face of ESPN, but he was a ubiquitous presence at the network and its corporate partner ABC. Maybe he wasn’t the first name or face that came to mind among diehard and casual viewers. But there’s a good chance that people watched Saunders on their televisions and heard his voice more than any other ESPN broadcaster during his 30 years there.

Longtime colleague Mike Tirico, who recently moved from ESPN to NBC, took an opportunity while manning the anchor desk during Tuesday’s coverage of the Rio Olympics to express his love, gratitude and admiration for Saunders, and sympathy for the wife and daughters he left behind.

Also at NBC, Dan Patrick shared his thoughts on Saunders during halftime of NBCSN’s coverage of Team USA men’s basketball game versus Australia.

Even Stephen A. Smith, the apparent opposite of Saunders in style, approach and profile at ESPN, was very emotional when discussing the death of his colleague and friend on First Take.

As touching and heartfelt as the words from so many of those who shared their lives with Saunders at one point or another, perhaps there’s no better example of Saunders’ impact on the people who knew him, and the professionalism and joy he brought to his work, than to see Stephen A. share a very human moment about a man who clearly meant a lot to him with his co-hosts and the viewing audience.

About Ian Casselberry

Ian is a writer, editor, and podcaster. You can find his work at Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He's written for Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, MLive, Bleacher Report, and SB Nation.

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