Dick Vitale has cancer for a third time. 84-year-old still plans to call ESPN games

Dick Vitale prepares to announce an NCAA college basketball game.
Dick Vitale at an NCAA basketball game between Michigan State and Kentucky in November 2022. The ESPN analyst says he’s been diagnosed with vocal cord cancer but plans to call games this fall.
(Darron Cummings / Associated Press)

Dick Vitale has twice defeated cancer.

And at age 84, the beloved ESPN college basketball analyst fully intends to do it again.

Vitale revealed Wednesday that he has vocal cord cancer and will need six weeks of radiation as treatment.

“Though I was disappointed with the pathology report, I plan on winning this battle like I did vs Melanoma & Lymphoma !” Vitale tweeted Wednesday.

Vitale called the first college basketball game broadcast on ESPN in 1979 (DePaul 90, Wisconsin 77) and has been with the network ever since, delivering one catch phrase after another and using his unmistakable voice to exude unbridled enthusiasm for the game.


Now that voice is ailing. But the man known to fans as Dickie V said his doctor gave him some excellent news, telling him that the cancer “has an extremely high cure rate.”

ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale makes no secret of his fandom for Tampa Bay teams. He predicts a Super Bowl win for Tom Brady and the Buccaneers.

Feb. 3, 2021

And there was more.

“I plan to fight like hell to be ready to call games when the college hoops season tips off in the Fall,” Vitale wrote. “Dr. Z feels that scenario is entirely possible.”

In November 2021, while Vitale was being treated for lymphoma and just months after overcoming melanoma, he returned to work to call ESPN’s broadcast of No. 1 Gonzaga against No. 2 UCLA, a rematch of a Final Four thriller from April of that year.

It was just what the doctor ordered, Vitale told The Times days before the game.

“It’s great medicine, right? And that’s how the doctors feel too,” said Vitale, who announced he was cancer free in April 2022. “They told me, ‘All the tests about how you are — your EKG, your heart, your organs, they’re all great, so there’s no reason why you cannot go on and live your life, be active and let us worry about chemo and let us worry about the cancer. You do what you normally do at 82 — enjoy yourself.’”

Dick Vitale, who was recently diagnosed with cancer, will make his courtside return Tuesday as part of ESPN’s broadcast for the UCLA vs. Gonzaga game.

Nov. 22, 2021

At the 1993 ESPYs, Vitale helped former North Carolina State coach Jim Valvano, who was weakened by cancer, to the stage to give his famous “Don’t give up” speech. Valvano died less than two months later.

Last year, Vitale was honored at the ESPYs with the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance. A longtime fundraiser for cancer research, Vitale announced his current diagnosis Wednesday, the day of this year’s ESPYs ceremony at Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre.


“This time last year, I was on the ESPYS stage, asking everyone to help in the cancer fight,” he wrote. “This terrible disease strikes so many of our loved ones, and it’s now knocked on my door three different times. More research will continue to help in this fight.”

ESPN laid off roughly 20 commentators, including former NBA coach Jeff Van Gundy and player Jalen Rose, according to a person familiar with the situation.

June 30, 2023