Months ago, shortly after Stuart Scott gave a moving speech about his fight with cancer, a group of ESPN producers–led by Mike Lieber, Miriam Greenfield and Denny Wolfe–began work on what would become the 14-minute tribute obituary that aired on ESPN this morning. “They all talked about what it would mean if the piece ever aired. It meant their friend and colleague was dead,” writes Sports Illustrated‘s Richard Deitsch. “But the small group of ESPN staffers who worked on the feature honoring the life of Stuart Scott believed they owed it to their colleague to produce something with love and care if that awful day ever came.”
Deitsch reports the producers informed Scott’s agent that work on the obit was underway, asking if Scott would want to know. It’s believed he was unaware that it had been completed
Lieber and Greenfield found out Scott had passed before sunrise on Sunday and hustled to get the piece ready for air. Lieber said producers were working on some of the auxiliary Scott pieces that ran on Sunday as late as two weeks ago. There are a lot of advanced pieces that live on ESPN’s servers until they run but Lieber and Co. intentionally did not put the main Scott feature on the servers because they did not want the piece living electronically. “God forbid someone hits a wrong button or sees that we are preparing it and starts to talk, and word got back to Stuart,” Lieber said.