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:
Stunned by the passing of ESPN host John Saunders. He was a great talent. Prayers to his family and friends— Chris Harrison (@chrisbharrison) August 10, 2016
I'm shocked, saddened. Can't believe one of the best, John Saunders, has passed away at 61. All time great guy. Heartbroken for his family.— Linda Cohn (@lindacohn) August 10, 2016
RIP to my dear friend John Saunders. Much love, Johnny. https://t.co/dWyQeuCEZM— Dave Coulier (@DaveCoulier) August 10, 2016
We've lost a great broadcaster and an even better person. RIP John Saunders.— Dan Shulman (@DShulman_ESPN) August 10, 2016
John Saunders was one of everybody's favorites. God bless his family and friends??. #RIP— Danny Ainge (@danielrainge) August 10, 2016
The times I got to be around John Saunders were special. Just different. Classy. Funny. I truly was a fan.— Michelle Beadle (@MichelleDBeadle) August 10, 2016
I first met John Saunders while working in St. Louis. John came to town as part of a celebrity hockey game we... https://t.co/UCYaOBObcJ— trey wingo (@wingoz) August 10, 2016
So incredibly sad to hear that John Saunders has passed. He was a role model, a gentleman & a first-class reporter/anchor. RIP to a legend.— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) August 10, 2016