Craig Sager Faces Leukemia Odds in Style
Advocacy Quite possibly the NBA's most-loved and best-dressed broadcaster, Craig Sager has battled through leukemia with characteristic optimism and flair.
He makes no secret of his outlook on cancer: it’s defiant optimism. First diagnosed with leukemia in 2014, Craig Sager has battled his diagnosis and beaten the odds no matter what the projected outcome was.
“Having a positive approach [when you’re diagnosed] makes a huge difference,” says the iconic sports broadcaster. He sounds energetic despite having just undergone an additional bone marrow transplant. “Mind over matter.” he continues. “How you think affects how you feel, and how you feel affects how you act. I had my transplant Wednesday. If someone comes in telling me, ‘Oh well, many patients relapse in 30 days,’ I tell them: ‘Get out of my room. Send in somebody else.’”
A young inspiration
Sager doesn’t only draw his optimistic energy from within. There’s also the example set by Lacey Holsworth, a neuroblastoma patient whom Sager wanted to interview after seeing the five-year-old meet Adreian Payne, her favorite Michigan State star.
“‘I realized my battle is only the inner nucleus of a much larger fight.’”
Sager met a girl so lively and excited — so undaunted — that her only thought was, “I’m just glad this happened to me and not [my younger brother] Luke. He’s too little to understand.”
It was not long after Lacey passed away that Sager received his own diagnosis. He decided that if she could remain positive, so could he. He stays close with Lacey’s parents, who recently drove down from Michigan to visit him in the hospital — and brought a pair of Lacey’s favorite cheetah-print dance boots for him.
A team effort
Sager understands the impact people’s diagnoses have on their families — his son has given him two transplants. “I realized my battle is only the inner nucleus of a much larger fight,” he says. “It travels outward to my family and kids, and as the story became public, the fight became boundless.”
Sager’s public fight extended further when he received the Jimmy V Perseverance Award, a personal honor, as Craig keeps Jimmy V’s original speech on his phone throughout his fight. Through Sager Strong, which gives 100 percent of its earnings to University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Craig furthers the incredible progress cancer treatments have made recently.
“I was told two years ago that they couldn’t do anything for me,” he explains. “No game plan. I went to MD Anderson, and they said, ‘We’ll make a game plan.’”
When asked which of the countless suits he’s worn might be his favorite, he doesn’t hesitate to say: “The next one.” Sager is being inducted into the National Broadcasters Hall of Fame this December. He can’t wait to pick out the next suit.