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“Oh, oh, welcome back to the broadcast booth, Mr. Vitale!”
If it’s felt like something’s been missing this college basketball season, that’s because there has been. ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale hasn’t yet called a game this season. The 82-year-old is college basketball royalty, known for his “This is awesome, baby!” call during games. Vitale announced in August that he was undergoing treatments to remove melanoma. Two months later, doctors diagnosed him with lymphoma.
Vitale has been fighting since then. Fighting to get back in the booth, doing what he loves. Vitale will make his return on Tuesday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, the site of No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 2 UCLA at 10:00 p.m. How fitting for Vitale to return for the biggest regular season game to date.
“My family and I are absolutely jumping with joy,” Vitale said. “Knowing I’ll be courtside with all my buddies and calling Number 1 versus 2, this is the best medicine I could ask for. To all of you, I simply say ‘thank you from the bottom of my heart’ for your prayers and messages, phone calls and texts.
“They gave me energy and lifted me up at a time that is not fun city – chemo for six months. To my ESPN family, starting with Jimmy Pitaro – I love you all. I’m so proud to start my 43rd year on Tuesday. Lastly, to the fans – you have given me a career that has exceeded any dream I’ve ever had.”
It will be Vitale’s 43rd season calling games for ESPN. Just awesome, baby.