a slam-dunk event

MD Anderson hosts pro sports icons in upcoming living legends event

MD Anderson hosts pro sports icons in upcoming living legends event

NBA on TNT cast Shaquille O'Neal Ernie Johnson Kenny Smith Charles Barkley
Ernie Johnson Jr. (center left) and Charles Barkley (right) will take part in the discussion. Courtesy photo

Health discussions today are rightfully centered on the coronavirus pandemic, but a celebrated local institution is casting light on another scourge on humanity: cancer.

An all-star lineup of sports greats are suiting up for The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Conversation with a Living Legend event, which will take place virtually on February 4, the organization announced. NBA legend and 11-time All-Star (and former Houston Rocket) Charles Barkley will be the headlining guest at the chat moderated by award-winning TV host Ernie Johnson Jr. Beloved Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts will also guest host the discussion.

Guests can expect the frank weave stories of three prolific sports figures whose lives have been affected by cancer: Roberts, Johnson, and the late sports reporter Craig Sager (known lovingly by fans for his loud and bold on-air apparel).

Individual tickets are available starting at $150 and are available online. Nearly $1 million has been raised, and all proceeds support blood cancer research at MD Anderson, the center reports. To date these events have raised more than $46 million for cancer research and patient programs at MD Anderson.

As sports fans know, Sager, an iconic basketball sideline reporter and journalist, Basketball Hall of Fame member, and Emmy Award winner, died in 2016 after being diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a cancer of the blood and bone marrow, two years earlier.

MD Anderson will posthumously award Sager, his wife, Stacy, and the SagerStrong Foundation with the Making Cancer History Award. The honor was established in 2007 to recognize visionaries who are committed to MD Anderson’s mission to end cancer.

Roberts is a breast cancer survivor who was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2012 and received the Arthur Ashe Courage Award in 2013. She has been tireless in her efforts to spread awareness of her fight with myelodysplastic syndrome, a malignancy of the bone marrow.

Johnson, who shared a close relationship with Sager, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma and dealt with his diagnosis privately until he announced his cancer in 2006. He also is a prostate cancer survivor.

“It is an honor to have such inspiring cancer survivors share their stories on behalf of MD Anderson and our mission to end cancer,” said Peter WT Pisters, M.D., president of MD Anderson, in a statement. “The opportunity to honor Craig and Stacy Sager and the SagerStrong Foundation for their trailblazing efforts, as well as the chance to hear from such legends as Robin, Ernie and Charles, is a true privilege. And with the support of our friends and their generous gifts, our researchers will be able to continue their dedicated work to improve outcomes for cancer patients all over the world.”

Event chairs for the 2021 Living Legend event, comprised of past Living Legend Chairs from Houston and San Antonio, include:

  • Claire and John Alexander
  • Jordan and Brian Arriaga
  • Ginger Blanton
  • Kelli and Eddy Scurlock Blanton
  • Leslie and Jack Blanton
  • Katie and Harry Cullen Jr.
  • Rosanette S. Cullen
  • Barbara and Alan Dreeben
  • Patsy Fourticq
  • Ellie and Michael Francisco
  • Maureen and Jim Hackett
  • Barbara and Charles Hurwitz
  • Kathy and Bill Johnson
  • Kim and Clyde Johnson IV
  • Paula and Clyde Johnson III
  • Kelli Kickerillo and Todd Forester
  • Elyse Lanier
  • Nancy Loeffler
  • Kathy and Jeff Love
  • Kathy and Jody McCord
  • Denise Monteleone
  • Vicky and Harris Pappas
  • Paige and Marc Sachs
  • Courtney and Christopher Sarofim
  • Joan Schnitzer
  • Lisa and Kelly Sechler
  • Marsha and John H. Shields
  • Sheridan and John Eddie Williams
  • Sonya Medina Williams and Gene Williams
  • Cyvia Wolff
  • Jessica and Clint Worth
  • Mary and Bob Worth
  • Allison and Josh Zeller