New York, NY – The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS) announced that Dick Vitale, one of the most well-known and entertaining sports analysts ever, will be honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award for Sports this year at the 40th Annual Sports Emmy® Awards May 20th.
“Dick Vitale is one of the most unique, effusive and recognizable voices in sports broadcasting today,” said 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,” Vitale said. “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,” said Steve Ulrich, the Executive Vice President, Sports Emmy Awards and Events. “Stealing a line from Vitale: that’s ‘Awesome, Baby!'”
Dick Vitale, college basketball’s top analyst and ambassador, joined the iconic network during the 1979-80 season—just after the September 1979 launch—following a successful college and pro coaching career. In 2008, Vitale received the sport’s ultimate honor when he was selected as an inductee into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
His thorough knowledge of the game is brought forth in an enthusiastic, passionate, sometimes controversial—but never boring—style. Vitale called ESPN’s first-ever major NCAA basketball game—Wisconsin at DePaul on Dec. 5, 1979 (a 90-77 DePaul win). Since then, he’s called over a thousand games. He has been profiled by a wide array of national magazines, ranging from Sports Illustrated, Sport and The Sporting News to People, Playboy and Travel & Leisure.
“I’m living the American dream,” Vitale once said. “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.”
And while his knowledge, preparation and enthusiasm are unparalleled, his “Vitale-isms” have unwittingly taken on a life of their own. Just a few of his many household phrases: “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). Vitale credits Hall of Fame broadcaster Jim Simpson, who he teamed with in the early 80’s, in helping him develop his broadcast style.
Vitale is also quite the philanthropist. He’s on the Board of Directors of The V Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to finding a cure for cancer and founded in 1993 by ESPN and the late Jim Valvano (an organization with has since raised over $200 million for cancer research). He hosts the annual “Dick Vitale Gala” in Florida benefiting the V Foundation, which has raised $25.2 million to date, gathering numerous celebrities to raise money and honor individuals such as Mike Krzyzewski, Bob Knight and Pat Summitt, Billy Donovan, Tom Izzo, Jay Wright and Nick Saban and Robin Roberts.
In all, Vitale’s been selected 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).
Dick Vitale was born in Passaic, New Jersey and resided in his youth in Garfield and Elmwood Park, New Jersey. He and his wife Lorraine now reside in Lakewood Ranch, Florida (Sarasota-Bradenton area), and have two daughters, Terri and Sherri, who both attended Notre Dame on tennis scholarships, and who both graduated with MBAs from the Golden Dome.