ESPN broadcaster John Saunders died Tuesday. He was 61.
A native of Ontario, Saunders played hockey in the Montreal junior leagues before starting his broadcasting career in 1978. He worked for numerous local stations before joining ESPN and ABC Sports in 1986.
Saunders filled numerous roles at ESPN. He was the longtime host of The Sports Reporters, and also anchored the network’s NHL, NBA and college football coverage at various times.
Before his death, Saunders was most often seen on Sports Reporters, ABC’s college football studio coverage and ESPN’s college basketball studio coverage.
Saunders was also a founding member of The V Foundation for Cancer Research, for which he served on the board of directors.
The anchor’s cause of death has not been made public, but it was unexpected. Earlier in August, Saunders was a speaker at the National Association of Black Journalists convention.
Saunders is survived by his wife Wanda and two daughters. ESPN president John Skipper released a statement about Saunders on Tuesday:
John was an extraordinary talent and his friendly, informative style has been a warm welcome to sports fans for decades. His wide range of accomplishments across numerous sports and championship events is among the most impressive this industry has ever seen. More importantly, John was a beloved and devoted family man who cared deeply about people and causes, as evidenced by his long-standing efforts as a passionate board member for The V Foundation for Cancer Research. He was one of the most significant and influential members of the ESPN family, as a colleague and mentor, and he will be sorely missed. Our thoughts are with his loved ones at this extremely difficult time.