The sports community is reeling.
Longtime ESPN host John Saunders has died at the age of 61. The exact cause of his death is unknown as of press time, but Saunders is survived by his wife, Wanda, and daughters, Aleah and Jenna.
"John was an extraordinary talent and his friendly, informative style has been a warm welcome to sports fans for decades," said John Skipper, president of ESPN and co-chairman of Disney Media Networks, in a media statement. "His wide range of accomplishments across numerous sports and championship events is among the most impressive this industry has ever seen. More importantly, John was a beloved and devoted family man who cared deeply about people and causes, as evidenced by his long-standing efforts as a passionate board member for The V Foundation for Cancer Research."
Skipper added, "He was one of the most significant and influential members of the ESPN family, as a colleague and mentor, and he will be sorely missed. Our thoughts are with his loved ones at this extremely difficult time."
As an on-air staple for the Worldwide Leader in Sports, Saunders did everything from anchoring SportsCenter to hosting The Sports Reporters and covering basketball, college football and the NHL.
The shocking news rattled ESPN personalities such as Hannah Storm, Stephen A. Smith, Jemele Hill and Michael Smith, who were all reduced to tears live on the network upon learning of the big loss.
Many more esteemed colleagues from sports and beyond took to their Twitter accounts to react as well.
R.I.P. to John Saunders.
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(Photo: Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Paley Center for Media)