One of the most iconic voices in college basketball broadcasting, Dick Vitale returned to the call this season after taking 2021-22 off as he battled cancer. With March Madness upon us, the 83-year-old took some time to reflect on how far he has come in the past year.
“It’s just a great feeling,” Vitale told USA Today Sports of his return to broadcasting, “because I’m telling you, there were some dark, dark moments, man.”
Vitale was unable to speak when the NCAA Tournament began in 2022. After undergoing several surgeries to remove melanoma, he was hit with another diagnosis. This time it was lymphoma and dysplasia on his vocal chords.
The second cancer diagnosis required another surgery, leaving Dick Vitale voiceless for eight weeks. For a man who made his living speaking, it was incredibly tough.
Vitale admitted he “felt trapped” during that time, but he remained upbeat publicly. The ESPN announcer didn’t let his situation stop him from making picks for the 2022 NCAA Tournament, writing them out on a dry-erase board.
Behind the scenes, however, his mind was on far more than basketball.
“Laying in the hospital after you do your chemo, your family leaves, you’re laying there and thoughts go through your mind,” Vitale said. “You know, if you’re going to see another day. Never mind another basketball game.”
In August of last year, the best news Vitale could have hoped for finally arrived. Doctors declared him cancer-free, allowing him to return to doing what he loves most. His return was met with plenty of love from fans, including receiving an emotional standing ovation at Allen Fieldhouse during a game between Indiana and Kansas.
“The love I’ve received has been unreal,’’ he said. “I get so much encouragement from my family, and I can’t express to you enough my love for ESPN. It’s more than a job for me.”
Dick Vitale Makes Final Four Predictions
With the first round of March Madness set to begin Thursday, it has been a pleasure to hear Vitale’s voice again ahead of this year’s tournament. The announcer was back on ESPN leading up to the tournament to make his usual analysis and predictions.
Vitale predicted Alabama to win the national championship, while also including Duke, Texas and Gonzaga in his Final Four. Time will tell whether those predictions come true, but either way, it’s just good to have him back.