John Saunders, the veteran ESPN broadcaster of more than 30 years, died early Wednesday morning at his home in Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y. He was 61.
Saunders’ wife called 911 after finding the ESPN host unresponsive, Hastings-on-Hudson Police Chief Anthony Visalli confirmed to Variety, which TMZ first reported. He was not breathing and was pronounced dead at the scene.
Saunders’ cause of death is unknown. A spokesperson with the Westchester County Medical Examiner told Variety that it rejected the case because there were no signs of foul play or trauma.
The broadcaster joined ESPN in 1986. In addition anchoring “SportsCenter,” he was also the host of “The Sports Reporters.” Throughout his career he would go on to become the voice of college basketball and the WNBA, as well as the MLB All-Star game and World Series. He hosted the Stanley Cup playoffs between 1993 and 2004 on ESPN.
“John was an extraordinary talent and his friendly, informative style has been a warm welcome to sports fans for decades,” said ESPN president John Skipper in a statement.
“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.”
Saunders was born in Canada where he grew up playing hockey, which eventually earned him a scholarship to play at Western Michigan University.
In the late 70’s he was a news director and sports anchor for several Canadian stations. Then, in the early 80’s he moved back to the U.S. to work as a sports anchor at WMAR-TV in Baltimore.
Outside of his broadcasting career, Saunders was a founding member of the V Foundation for Cancer Research and also served on the board of directors.
Saunders is survived by wife Wanda and daughters Aleah and Jenna.
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