— -- The sports world was shocked today by the passing of legendary reporter and host John Saunders.
The 61-year-old ESPN anchor and host of "The Sports Reporters" was a beloved figure in his world and far, far beyond. Actors, other reporters and of course, fellow colleagues, took to social media to pay their respects and share stories of this icon gone too soon.
Stephen A. Smith spoke live Wednesday afternoon on ESPN about the "father figure" Saunders has been to him since he started at the network more than a decade ago.
Smith said their relationship was not "just professional," but that the mentor would talk to him about anything in life, always looking to lend a helping hand to a young journalist.
"He never asked to be a brother, or friend or anything inspirational in my life," Smith added to ABC News. "He just demanded it simply by being the best colleague any professional could ever hope to have. My heart is too heavy right now for any additional words. But I'm sure I'm not alone. I lost someone I love dearly. As has anyone who truly knew this man!"
Hannah Storm had to break the news live on the air and was visibly shaken by the loss of a friend.
"Generous, talented and beloved" were just a few of the words Storm used to describe him.
Here are thoughts from others who loved John Saunders as much as those who saw him every day, covering sports news: