Frank Deford, one of the most prolific and beloved sports writers of all-time died on Sunday in Key West, Florida.
He was 78 years old.
According to The Washington Post, Deford’s wife has confirmed this sad piece of news, although other details related to the death are unknown at this time.
Deford got his start as a Sports Illustrated staff member in 1962 and was serving as a senior editor emeritus for the national publication at the time of his passing.
The beloved literary figure also worked with NPR’s Morning Edition for 32 years, having retired earlier this month following his 1,656th NPR commentary.
Over the course of a truly memorable career, Deford…
… wrote 17 books.
… Worked as a contributor on HBO’s “Real Sports” franchise.
… And was the editor of the National Sports Daily.
He was elected to the Hall of Fame of the National Association of Sportscasters and Sportswriters and has been voted by his peers as the U.S. Sportswriter of the Year six times.
In 2013, as pictured below, President Barack Obama presented the writer with the National Humanities Medal.
Said the Commander-in-Chief of Deford at the time:
“A dedicated writer and storyteller, Mr. Deford has offered a consistent, compelling voice in print and on radio, reaching beyond scores and statistics to reveal the humanity woven into the games we love.”
Aside from the work that made him famous across every sports landscape, Deford served as the national chairman of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation after his first daughter, Alex, died of the disease at the age of eight.
Not long after Deford’s death was announced, numerous reporters took to Twitter in order to express their condolences.
Here is a sampling of what they wrote:
Upon leaving NPR this year, Deford said the following:
“The wonderful thing about delivering sports commentary on NPR was that because it has such a broad audience, I was able to reach people who otherwise had little or no interest in sport – especially as an important part of our human culture.
“Nothing made me happier than to hear from literally hundreds of listeners who would tell me how much the commentaries revealed about a subject they otherwise had never cared much for.
“I’ll forever be grateful to NPR that they gave me such extraordinary freedom. … It was 37 years of a fond relationship.”
In 2012, Deford became the first person from the world of sports to receive the W.M. Kiplinger Distinguished Contributions to Journalism Award, the National Press Foundation’s highest honor.
That same year, he became the first magazine writer to win the Associated Press Sports Editors’ Red Smith Award.
Then, in 2013, the University of Kansas presented him with the William Allen White Foundation National Citation for “excellence in journalism.”
Dedord is survived by his wife and two grown children.
May he rest in peace.