Craig Sager speaks about cancer battle, family

By Haley Hernandez - Health Reporter

HOUSTON - He has been a fixture on NBA sidelines for three decades -- sports reporter Craig Sager showed KPRC a side of him that usually doesn't appear in front of the camera.

He's used to being the one asking the questions, but when the spotlight took a turn, he revealed he's just as enchanting as his majestic suits.

Sager said he would feel dull if he were in a navy suit.

"This is me, I'm lively," Sager said.

Cancer hasn't changed his sense of style or love for life. In fact, living is the reason he made his own game plan and packed up for MD Anderson in May, leaving behind work and family in Atlanta.

In his battle against cancer he underwent chemotherapy, went into remission, relapsed, had transplant surgery and another round of chemo. He's lost his hair and 50 pounds, but his "Sagervision" keeps him focused on getting better and back at it.

"I've got a 9-year-old and a 10-year-old, too, so I've got the three older ones and two younger ones," Sager said. "I've got a lot of work to do."

His son Craig Sager Jr. was a perfect match for a transplant, which is rare, He's been improving since that surgery in July.

"I'm growing up to be like my son. I'll adopt his blood type and he's very excited, we're very close," the elder Sager said.

What he's leaving out is that his son did in fact grow up to be like him first.

The younger Sager is a sports writer. Because many of the elder Sager's career highlights are of him and San Antonio Spur's coach Greg Popovich, the two planned a surprise message during a TNT broadcast when the elder Sager was first diagnosed last year.

"You did a great job, but I'd rather have your dad standing here," Popovich said to the younger Sager before turning to look directly into the camera and saying, "We miss you. You've been an important part of all this for a long time. You've been doing a great job. We want your fanny back on the court, and I promise I'll be nice."

It sounds like a promise that will be broken, but it brings up the question: when will he return?

"I said, 'The NBA season starts Oct. 27, what are my chances?' He goes, 'Oh they're good!'" the elder Sager said of the conversation he had with his MD Anderson doctor.

"I said one more, 'What about the Olympics next summer in Rio?' He said, 'No brainer! I said yes! Yes!'"

Without any unforeseen setbacks, the elder Sager said he vows to see you on TV again for the start of the NBA season.

"I've got the greatest job in the world. It's not like I'm out in the sun digging ditches. I'm going to the greatest sporting events in the world," he said, denying he has any plans to retire.

The elder Sager has remained adamantly optimistic, telling KPRC 2 News he insisted on surrounding himself with positive people, even when there wasn't much to stay positive about. He said he believes that's the reason he has never felt sick during chemo.

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