Legendary sports writer Frank Deford dies at 78

Legendary sports writer Frank Deford dies at 78

Legendary sports writer Frank Deford dies at 78

President Barack Obama laughs with Frank Deford as he awards him the 2012 National Humanities Medal during a ceremony in the East Room of White House in Washington on July 10, 2013.

Frank Deford, the award-winning sportswriter and commentator whose elegant reportage was a staple for years at Sports Illustrated and National Public Radio, has died.

"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", said Deford upon his retirement, according to Christopher Turpin of NPR.org.

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In 1989, Frank Deford became editor-in-chief of The National, the nation's first daily USA sports newspaper, with a murderer's row lineup of sportswriters.

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

Deford wrote lengthy features on iconic sports figures like Bob Knight, the cantankerous IN basketball coach, and Billy Conn, the boxer known as "The Pittsburgh Kid".

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Deford was known for musing philosophically about the role of athletics in American life.

One of Deford's best pieces was a 1999 profile he wrote of NBA Hall-of-Famer Bill Russell. "When most of us from the 20th century reminisce about growing up, we right away remember the songs and the athletes of any particular moment".

Deford wrote more than a dozen books, and also served as a contributor to HBO's "Real Sports" franchise.

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Ford is survived by his wife, Carol Penner Deford, and their two surviving children, Christian and Scarlet, the latter of whom the couple adopted as an infant from the Philippines a few months after Alexandra's death in 1980.

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