Former Sports Illustrated Writer Frank Deford Dies at Age 78

Emmett Rice
May 30, 2017

Legendary sportswriter Frank Deford, also known as NPR's longtime philosopher of sports, died at his home in Key West, Fla., at the age of 78.

Deford began working for Sports Illustrated after graduating from Princeton in 1962, and went on to enjoy a tenure of over 50 years.

The author of more than a dozen books also made his mark on TV and radio with his booming, gruff voice.

In 2012, then-President Barack Obama presented Deford a medal from the National Endowment for the Humanities, which honored him "for transforming how we think about sports".

Reporters banded together on Twitter to reflect on Deford's career and share their condolences. The acclaimed journalist has several television credits including his time as a correspondent for "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel" on HBO between 1995 and 2015.

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Benjamin Franklin "Frank" Deford III was born on December 16, 1938, in Baltimore, MD, and graduated from Princeton University in 1962. He retired earlier this month following his 1,656th NPR commentary. "Nobody was better at connecting sports to the culture at large". "And now, Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages, I bid you goodbye, and take my leave".

Deford became a member of the National Association of Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall of Fame and was voted Sportswriter of the Year six times by his peers.

His wife, Carol Penner Deford, confirmed that her husband passed away on Sunday.

Writing in Sports Illustrated about his boyhood hero Johnny Unitas, who played for Deford's hometown Baltimore Colts in the 1950s, Deford said he wondered how people "in olden times connected back to their childhoods".

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