It’s been a tough college basketball season for ESPN analyst Dick Vitale, who revealed in October that he had been diagnosed with lymphoma. While undergoing cancer treatment, including chemotherapy, Vitale received medical clearance to call some games and had a blast doing so, but announced at the end of December he had to take time off the air after being diagnosed with dysplasia on his vocal cords. Now, he wrote Monday on ESPN Front Row that his doctors want him to sit out the rest of the college basketball season. Here’s an excerpt from that:
I had my scheduled follow-up visit today with Dr. Steven Zeitels, a leading throat specialist, who had diagnosed me with Dysplasia on the vocal cords a few weeks ago and ordered me to rest my ailing voice.
Well, today, Dr. Z. delivered the news that even though the rest really helped, I need to give my voice an even longer “T.O., Baby!” And there is no doubt I will soon need surgery to solve my Dysplasia and ulcerated lesions of the vocal cords.
So, while I’m heartbroken that I won’t appear on ESPN for the rest of this season, I’m encouraged by the progress. In fact, it appears that by resting my voice for the past three weeks, I’ve reduced the inflammation by 60 percent. Let’s hope the added rest will help it heal some more, and things will look even better when I go for my next follow-up visit on Feb. 16. Once the inflammation heals, we will set a date for surgery.
…You know I am an eternal optimist who acts like he’s a teenager. Yet there is no doubt these past five months have been emotionally and physically frustrating. I am so appreciative of the love and care demonstrated by the incredible members of the medical community. And I will be forever grateful for the calls, texts, and social media expressions of encouragement from friends, colleagues, fans, media and members of my ESPN family. I love people, and I’m honored to receive such overwhelming support.
Vitale also notes there that this is separate from his cancer treatment, but that that treatment is progressing positively as well. And he says he’s hopeful he’ll be able to return to calling games next season: “My throat’s condition is clearly moving in the right direction, and Dr. Z. is very optimistic that this can be successfully treated to have me strong for the 2022-23 season on ESPN.”
It’s certainly unfortunate to hear that Vitale won’t be able to call any further games this season. His enthusiasm’s a big part of ESPN’s college basketball coverage, and he’s also one of the last remaining figures from the original days of ESPN; in fact, he called their first-ever college basketball broadcast, back in December 1979. He’s also done a ton to raise millions of dollars for research into children’s cancers (including at the May 2021 gala seen at top), and told AA last year that fundraising is “the story of my life now.” We wish him all the best as he rests and looks to return to the booth next year.
[ESPN Front Row; photo from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, via USA Today Sports]