John Saunders Cause of Death: How the Beloved ESPN Anchor Died

John Saunders was one of the most versatile and respected sports journalists in the industry. He worked for ESPN and ABC for 30 years, covering a variety of sports and events, such as college football, college basketball, the NHL, the NBA, and the World Series. He was also the host of ESPN’s The Sports Reporters, a popular Sunday morning show that featured insightful discussions and debates among sports writers. He was admired by his colleagues and fans for his professionalism, passion, and personality.

However, behind his successful career and cheerful demeanor, Saunders was struggling with several health issues that eventually led to his tragic death at age 61. Here is what we know about John Saunders cause of death and how he battled with depression, addiction, and physical ailments throughout his life.

A Life-Changing Injury

According to AOL News, Saunders suffered a life-changing injury in 2011, when he stood up too quickly on the set of ABC’s College Football, blacked out, fell backward on the tile floor, and hit his head. He sustained a concussion and a traumatic brain injury that affected his memory, speech, balance, and vision. He spent six months in therapy, relearning how to walk, talk, read, and write.

Saunders returned to ESPN in 2012, but he faced difficulties in performing his duties as an anchor and commentator. He would sometimes mix up names or get the score wrong on air, which drew criticism from some viewers. He also experienced mood swings, anxiety, and depression as a result of his brain injury.

A History of Depression and Addiction

Saunders revealed in his posthumous memoir, Playing Hurt: My Journey from Despair to Hope, that he had been suffering from depression since he was a teenager. He grew up in a dysfunctional family where his father was abusive and alcoholic. He also faced racism and bullying as a black Canadian in a predominantly white society.

Saunders found solace in sports, especially hockey. He was a talented defenseman who earned a scholarship to play at Western Michigan University. However, he also developed a drinking problem that affected his academic performance and athletic career. He transferred to Ryerson University in Toronto and continued to play hockey there until he graduated.

Saunders pursued a career in sports journalism after college. He worked for several Canadian television stations before moving to the United States in 1982. He joined ESPN in 1986 and quickly rose to prominence as one of the network’s top personalities.

However, despite his professional success and personal happiness (he married his wife Wanda in 1987 and had two daughters), Saunders still struggled with depression and addiction. He tried various treatments, such as medication, therapy, and rehab, but none of them worked for him. He also attempted suicide twice in his life.

A Heart Condition

Saunders also had a heart condition that he inherited from his father. He had an enlarged heart that made him vulnerable to cardiac arrest. He also had diabetes that affected his blood sugar levels and blood pressure.

Saunders was aware of his heart condition and tried to manage it by taking medication and exercising regularly. However, he also admitted that he sometimes neglected his health because of his busy schedule and stressful lifestyle.

The Final Days

Saunders died on August 10, 2016 at his home in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York. According to Wikipedia, the coroner later said Saunders died of a combination of an enlarged heart, complications from his diabetes, and dysautonomia, which affects the automated nervous system that regulates breathing, blood pressure, and heart rate.

Saunders’ death shocked the sports world and left a void in ESPN and ABC. His colleagues and friends paid tribute to him on air and on social media. His fans expressed their condolences and appreciation for his work. His family mourned their loss and celebrated his legacy.

Saunders’ memoir was published in 2017 with the help of co-author John U. Bacon. The book chronicles Saunders’ life story and reveals his struggles with depression and addiction. It also offers hope and inspiration for others who are facing similar challenges.

Saunders’ memoir ends with these words: “I’m not playing hurt anymore; I’m playing free.”

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