On February 12th 2019, The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS) proclaimed Dick Vitale, one of the most highly respected, colorful color commentators the athletic world over, to be this year’s recipient of Lifetime Achievement Award for Sports at this year’s 40th Annual Sports Emmy® Awards!
A superlatively lauded basketball expert and emissary, Vitale joined the seminal ESPN network in 1979 shortly after its initial inception following a stellar coaching career in pro-college basketball. A christening moment in his broadcasting vocation: Live Analysis of ESPN’s first ever-major NCAA Basketball game – Wisconsin at DePaul on December 5th 1979. DePaul won, by the way, 90-77. From here on out would be the commencement of a career calling thousands of games via a fervently animated, sometimes even provocative bravura!
Though totally unscripted, the spontaneous nature of Vitale’s vibrant game-time interjections belies his diligent penchant for research and preparation. That said, Vitale has unwittingly launched some of the top house hold sports catch phrases aka “Vitale-isms” so many sports fans have come to know and love today: “Awesome, Baby!,” “Get a TO, Baby!” (call a timeout), “PTP’er” (prime-time player), “M & M’er” (a mismatch), “Rolls Roycer” (a flat out superstar), “diaper dandy” (freshman star), “All-Windex Performer” (ferocious rebounder) and “Maalox time” (the final minutes of a close game). Fellow sports caster and game-time partner in crime through the 1980s, Jim Simpson is credited by Vitale for his helping inspire his remarkable style.
Moreover, his passion for the game and said singularity have garnered the attention of a plethora of national publications from Sports Illustrated, Sport and The Sporting News, to People, to Playboy and Travel & Leisure.
As a testament to a long and prolific career, Vitale has been honorably tapped for 13 halls of fame: National Italian Sports Hall of Fame, the Elmwood Park, N.J., Hall of Fame (his hometown), the Sarasota Boys and Girls Club Hall of Fame (inducted in inaugural class of 2001), the Five-Star Basketball Camp Hall of Fame (2003), the University of Detroit Hall of Fame, the Florida Sports Hall of Fame in 1996 (he’s a resident of the state), the East Rutherford, N.J., Hall of Fame (1985), the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame (2008), the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (2008), Sarasota Community Archives Hall of Fame (2009), the Little League Museum Hall of Excellence (2012), the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Awards (NSSA) Hall of Fame (2013), Wooden Cup Award (2017) and the National Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame (2018).
Also an avid humanitarian, Dick Vitale holds a seat on the Board of Directors for the V Foundation, a non-profit organization whose chief concern is finding a cure for cancer. Incumbent upon its 1993 inception by ESPN and the late Jim Valvano, to date it has raised more than $200 million for cancer research. One of Vitale’s most relevant and enterprising endeavors encompasses hosting Florida’s annual Dick Vitale Gala inspiring the convening of a multitude of celebrities with a focus on raising money all the while venerating individuals such as Mike Krzyzewski, Bob Knight and Pat Summitt, Billy Donovan, Tom Izzo, Jay Wright and Nick Saban and Robin Roberts. Currently, said yearly Gala has raised $25.2 million.
“Dick Vitale is one of the most unique, effusive and recognizable voices in sports broadcasting today,” declared Adam Sharp, President and CEO, NATAS. “His knowledge, enthusiasm and love of the game is captured in every comment, call and catchphrase he creates. He is a master behind the microphone and a great humanitarian. The National Academy could not be more proud to honor him with our distinguished, Lifetime Achievement Awards for Sports!”
“To have my name listed among the giants in sports broadcasting and to receive this prestigious award leaves me speechless, and you probably know that doesn’t happen to me often,” admitted Vitale. “I’m in absolute awe, going from a jock in the locker room, to 40 years and counting at ESPN, to now being in the same group as many people I’ve idolized as a fan is incredible! I’ll simply say I’m so blessed and lucky, and owe it all to my family and my second family at ESPN.”
“Dick becomes the thirtieth sports personality or executive to be honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award for Sports, and only the second after John Madden from the analyst’s side of the microphone,” disclosed Steve Ulrich, the Executive Vice President, Sports Emmy Awards and Events. “Stealing a line from Vitale: that’s ‘Awesome, Baby!'”
Having grown up in Passaic, Garfield and Elmwood New Jersey, Vitale now lives in Lakewood Ranch Florida with his wife Lorraine. The proud father of two athletic daughters Terri and Sherri, Vitale has, no doubt, attended many a tennis match in his day as both unflinching young women attended Notre Dame on tennis scholarships along with attaining MBAs from the Golden Dome.
Vitale was once quoted as having said: “I’m living the American dream. I learned from my mom and dad, who didn’t have a formal education, but had doctorates of love. They told me that if you gave 110 percent all the time, a lot of beautiful things will happen. I may not always be right, but no one can ever accuse me of not having a genuine love and passion for whatever I do. And ESPN has been grateful enough to recognize this.”
For more information on this year’s Emmy® Awards, please visit: