ESPN’s Dick Vitale taking time off from broadcasting amid cancer battle

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Dick Vitale is taking a step back from the broadcast booth amid his latest battle with cancer, the longtime ESPN college basketball announcer said on Wednesday.

Vitale announced in October that he had lymphoma, his second cancer diagnosis in three months. After meeting with a throat specialist in Massachusetts this week, Vitale said it was recommended that he take a break.

“I’ve been having some issues with my voice and I needed to see what was going on,” Vitale said in a post on ESPN on Wednesday. “The good news is that he doesn’t believe anything is life-threatening. However, Dr. [Steven] Zeitels says I have pre-cancerous dysplasia on the vocal cords. Bottom line is I need to rest them — my voice needs a T.O., BABY!”

Vitale joined ESPN for the first college basketball season at the network after it launched, and has been a staple in the sport since. The 82-year-old was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008.

Vitale underwent surgery to remove melanoma in August, just a few months before he was diagnosed with lymphoma. He has been undergoing treatment and chemotherapy, but was cleared to return to call the game between then-No. 1 Gonzaga and No. 2 UCLA in November — which made for an incredibly emotional moment for the broadcaster.

Sports commentator Dick Vitale
ESPN's Dick Vitale said he is taking a step back amid his battle with lymphoma. (Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)

Vitale said in his post on Wednesday that he isn’t sure how long he will be off the air, but said that it will be at least eight weeks. He also wanted to assure fans that he hadn’t suffered a setback in his treatment.

Vitale said he will continue visiting with his doctors every few weeks starting next month.

“I’ve said it over and over again – I have been so touched and humbled by the outpouring of well-wishes,” Vitale wrote. “Your notes, calls, texts and tweets mean the world to me. I love people and I’m so grateful to have such an incredible life. And my bosses at ESPN are simply fantastic and completely supportive.

“As I think you know by now, I will share more updates when I have them. Until then, I will be watching basketball from my living room with my loving family. Happy New Year, everyone! All my love!”