Dick Vitale

Dick Vitale Headshot


Birth Name: Richard J. Vitale

Birth Date: June 9, 1939

Age: 85 years old

Birth Place: East Rutherford, New Jersey

Dick Vitale is a college basketball color commentator, an author of nine books, a pitchman for numerous companies, as well as a pop culture icon. He is perhaps even better known for his boisterous personality and catchphrases - such as "baby," "PTP'er" and "diaper dandy" - as he is for his in-depth knowledge of the game of college basketball. Vitale's hall-of-fame-level mark on both the profession of sports-casting and on generations of fans is unrivaled among his contemporaries.

Richard J. "Dick" Vitale was born on June 9, 1939 in Passaic, NJ, the son of a security guard and a seamstress. In Kindergarten, a young Vitale lost the vision in his left eye after an accident with a pencil.

In 1959, Vitale began his first coaching job - in football as well as basketball - while teaching at Mark Twain Elementary School in Garfield, NJ. He eventually became the head coach at Garfield High School for one season, which was followed by a successful stint at his alma mater East Rutherford High School. At East Rutherford, Vitale won two consecutive state championships during his seven-year tenure.

Vitale graduated from Seton Hall University in 1963 with a bachelor's degree in business administration. He later earned a master's degree in education from what is now William Patterson University. In 1971, Vitale accepted an assistant coaching job at Rutgers University. Two years later, he took a head coaching position at the University of Detroit, where in 1977, he took his squad to the then 32-team NCAA tournament.

During his time in Detroit, Vitale amassed a 78-30 record, which at one point included 21-straight wins. After the 1977 season, Vitale was promoted to the university's athletic director. Vitale then joined the National Basketball Association coaching ranks with the Detroit Pistons for the 1978-79 season.

His tenure was brief and not particularly memorable, but it led to Vitale finding his true calling - broadcasting. Vitale actually didn't want to take a job offer from the then-new and fledgling ESPN, but his wife convinced him to accept it on a temporary basis.

There, Vitale called the cable network's very first NCAA basketball game, and never left. In 1985, after ABC acquired ESPN, Vitale also began doing broadcasts on the parent network. In 1987, Vitale added "motivational speaker" to his resume when he signed an exclusive contract to work with the Washington Speakers Bureau.

Vitale took on other roles that showcased his personality as well. In 1988, Vitale appeared as himself in "The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!" In 1991, Vitale appeared on "The Cosby Show" (NBC, 1984-92) in its eighth and final season, portraying a furniture mover alongside friend and fellow coach Jim Valvano.

In 1993, the V Foundation was formed in memory of the late Valvano. Vitale has sat on the Board of Directors since. He has also been very involved with the Boys & Girls Club of Sarasota, and has been recognized and honored for his seemingly countless philanthropic ventures.

The charitable man has used his celebrity for commercial purposes as well. In 1994, Vitale lent his name and voice to the Sega Genesis video game, "Dick Vitale's 'Awesome Baby' College Hoops." He and partner Brad Nessler also did the play-by-play and color commentary for EA Sports' "NCAA Basketball."

In 1999, Vitale was featured in a series of 30-second promo shorts for "Hoops Malone," which was presented as a sitcom, though no actual episodes were ever produced. Still, the marketing campaign led to an offer for Vitale to do a sitcom, which he declined.

In late 2007, Vitale was diagnosed with lesions on his vocal cords. He returned to broadcasting the following February, making it the only time Vitale has missed a game due to illness. In 2008, Vitale received the game's highest honor when he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a contributor to the sport.

According to his website, Vitale has called close to 1,000 basketball games. Vitale is married with two daughters, both of whom attended and played varsity tennis for the University of Notre Dame. He is a spokesman for Hooters restaurants, DiGiorno pizza and Airborne Athletics Dr. Dish basketball training machine.

Vitale has also appeared weekly on ESPN Radio's "Mike & Mike in the Morning" show and additionally pens an ESPN.com article once a week. He is also a regular contributor to ESPN The Magazine, as well as Basketball Times and USA Today.


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