Emotional Dick Vitale Returns to ESPN Amid Cancer Battle

Dick Vitale and Dave O'Brien ESPN

Legendary basketball sportscaster Dick Vitale couldn’t hold back the tears on Tuesday night as he returned to the broadcast booth for the first time since being diagnosed with lymphoma.

Vitale returned to ESPN to commentate on the college game between Gonzaga and UCLA and became emotional as he was introduced by his broadcast partner Dave O’Brien. “I can’t believe I’m sitting here,” said a teary-eyed Vitale, who was given the lymphoma diagnosis in October and is currently undergoing treatment.

“This is really a big thrill for me,” he continued. “I want to thank all who sent me so many great messages… [ESPN president] Jimmy Pitaro, all my buddies at ESPN. I want to thank certainly my family and all the fans. My, you have been unbelievable.”

Vitale, who started his broadcast career in 1979, had previously had surgery for melanoma before his recent cancer diagnosis. His current treatment plan includes steroids and six rounds of chemotherapy, but his doctors have given him the OK to return to work.

“On October 12, I’ll be honest with you, when they walked in and told me I had cancer, they thought it was bile duct cancer, and it was really going to be a serious surgery and all,” Vitale explained. “I never dreamt at 82 that I’m going to be at courtside again, but to be here again, I’m sorry, I hope I don’t cause a problem out there, but I feel so emotional.”

Despite Gonzaga’s 83-63 victory over UCLA, both teams put aside any competitive beef to pay their well wishes to Vitale. Gonzaga gifted him a jersey with “Dickie V” on it, while UCLA gave him one that said, “Never Give Up.”

Before the game, Vitale sent out a tweet offering support to others going through hard times. “To ALL of u in any battle “Don’t believe in can’t”!” he wrote.