Jay Crawford had a great week June 19-25. The Sandusky native and anchor of ESPN’s SportsCenter saw his son, Corey, pull off an Olympic-qualifying long jump June 25. Later that day stuck in traffic, Crawford and his wife, Tracy, learned their daughter Kirstyn’s boyfriend, Joe Toohey, won a Washington, D.C.-area Emmy Award.
“We were screaming just as loud when they announced [Toohey] was the winner as we were when Corey made his jump,” Crawford recalls.
But it all started for the diehard Cleveland sports fan with a Cleveland Cavaliers Game 7 win June 19 — Father’s Day. We caught up with Crawford, who’s been covering sports for nearly 30 years, to get his takes on LeBron James, fatherhood and more.
On James’ emotional reaction to winning: He was euphoric the first time and even the second time [he won in Miami], but this one just seemed different all the way around. This is a guy who took the pressure of winning one in a city where they hadn’t felt that in 52 years. He took it upon himself. I believe LeBron to be a very good guy. And leaving [for Miami] ate at him more as time went on. He was all about righting what he felt was a wrong.
On James’ NBA Finals performance: When the games meant the most, when the competition was the hottest, when LeBron James was being questioned as much as he has been in any time in his career, he led all players — both teams — in points, in rebounds, in blocks, in assists and in steals. I’ll never see that in sports again. If it’s ever done again, it’ll be by LeBron James.
On watching the Cleveland Indians lose the 2007 American League Championship series with his cancer-stricken father: I said, “Dad, how are you sitting there with almost no emotion? This was our last chance to enjoy a championship together.” And he said, “How else am I supposed to handle it? I’m losing the real battle. I didn’t ask you to come out here solely so we could watch one of our teams make history. I asked you to come out here so we could have one more father-son sporting experience together.” What I learned in that moment was Don’t let sports detract from your life. It’s a game.
On the importance of being with Corey when the Cavs won: My dad told me, “I love watching you and Corey watch sports together now. It takes me back to the age when you were his age and you and I did that. So what I need you to do is make sure you are with him when that moment comes.” As I was watching Corey celebrate, there was a piece of me that was like, This is probably what my dad looked like when the Browns won their first championship. I’ll never forget that scene. I’ll remember the smell. I’ll remember everything about that night.
On Cleveland after Game 7: What I saw that night was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen in my life. What I saw was a colorless city. I saw the most jubilant celebration I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been at many championships. I saw total strangers — black, white — in full embrace with smiles on their faces. Our city had no color that night. I remember saying to my son, “If only our world could be like this every day.”