Ernie Johnson won his third Emmy for best studio host Tuesday evening, only he didn’t take home the award. He gave it to someone else.
He gave it to Stuart Scott’s daughters.
“I’m just glad to be in a position where what happened could happen,” TNT’s “Inside the NBA” host said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “That’s the simplest way I can put it. I never expected to hear my name called. I expected – I think as everyone in the room did – that Stuart Scott’s name would be called and that his daughters would go up and accept the Emmy for him. When my name was called, it was a total shock. I knew that while I would go up and receive that, I was not going to walk off the stage with it.”
Johnson asked Scott’s daughters, Taelor and Sydni, to come on stage, where he handed them the award. It was a simple gesture. It was a kind gesture. It was a gesture that few would have made.
But for Johnson, 58, this was personal. He was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins’ lymphoma in 2003 and later beat the disease. Scott, who battled cancer for years, died in January at the age of 49.
“The common ground that Stuart and I shared was having battled cancer before,” Johnson said. “I know what it does to a family. I know if somebody in the family has cancer, everybody has cancer. There’s no way you can prepare your children to deal with their dad having cancer. It’s the uncertainty that comes with it, the fear that comes with it, the anxiety. And so when I see a family like Stuart’s – two teenage girls who have now lost their father – it breaks your heart. Having been there and having seen that – really, the last thing I wanted that night was for those girls to leave that place disappointed because their dad didn’t win that Emmy. And so, I was just given an opportunity.
“As my wife likes to say – my wife is by far the smarter of this pairing and we’ve been married for 32 years – and she basically said when we were walking away, ‘It’s very simple. You just did the next right thing.’ When I look at it that way, it’s what I needed to do. It’s what I had to do and I think it’s what others would have done too if they were given the opportunity.”
It’s been quite a few weeks for Johnson, who is not only covering the NBA playoffs, but also capturing America’s heart. There’s the Emmy gesture, of course, but there was also the two-part E:60 feature about him and his family that aired last week. Johnson and his wife, Cheryl, have adopted four children, including a son, Michael, who was born with a progressive form of muscular dystrophy and lives on a ventilator in Johnson’s home. The show gave an inside look at the family’s humility, courage and kindness.
“It’s been a humbling last 10 days or so,” Johnson said. “From the E:60 piece that ESPN did – our family was floored by that – and then just the response from people on Twitter and my email and text and everything else, (it was) off-the-charts.”