ESPN - Jeff Dickerson, a fixture at ESPN and in the Chicago sports market for two decades, died Tuesday of complications from colon cancer. He was 44.
In a cruel twist, Dickerson died at the same hospice care facility that his wife, Caitlin, died in two years ago. Caitlin Dickerson had undergone treatment for melanoma and its complications for eight years. Jeff Dickerson is survived by their son, Parker, and his parents, George and Sandy Dickerson.
Dickerson said in 2019 that he considered Caitlin an "inspiration" because "she refused to let cancer dictate her life." He channeled that determination upon receiving his own cancer diagnosis in early 2021, plowing ahead with a full schedule that included parenting Parker, fundraising for cancer research and covering the Chicago Bears for ESPN digital and ESPN 1000 radio. He also joined the board of the Vaughn McClure Foundation, a non-profit he helped establish to honor the memory of McClure, a former Bears beat writer and Atlanta Falcons reporter for ESPN who died in 2020.
On Oct. 14, Dickerson served as the emcee for the foundation's inaugural charity gala in suburban Chicago. Few at the event knew that his disease was advancing.
Dickerson never wavered in his belief that he would beat back cancer, joking with dark humor that he had too much experience with it. In addition to treatment and his work responsibilities, he spent the past year chronicling Parker's sports activities, traveling with him to basketball and baseball tournaments and attending his fall football games.
Even after being placed in hospice last week, he told colleagues he was there merely to humor his doctors. No one around him heard a word of self-pity, and he disarmed those who expressed concern by asking them about their own lives.
I just spent the past hour reading story after story from friends and colleagues of Jeff Dickerson and have come to the conclusion that this was one of the best people in sports journalism.
A local guy, who graduated from Buffalo Grove High School, then matriculated to University of Illinois, he knew he wanted to be a "radio guy" and cover the Bears from a young age. He achieved that by landing his first job with ESPN 1000 radio in 2001, covering the Bears, and helping launch ESPNChicago.com later in 2009.
He had a couple of his own local radio shows, (Dickerson and Hood), and he was also the go-to voice for Loyola Ramblers basketball news.
One of the best things I have read about Jeff, numerous times, is how many people attribute their personal success to the help of Jeff Dickerson. They say that "true success is measured by the lives we impact."
And Jeff Dickerson impacted a ton of lives. He got countless folks feet in the door with their job, or as a few described it, "flung the door wide open for them". He was generous with his time and knowledge and wanted to see others succeed. I think that's something truly remarkable.
But according to the personal accounts of the TONS of people who loved Jeff, his professional achievements paled in comparison to his duties being a husband, father, and friend.
What makes this story of a bright life cut short by a terrible disease so early even worse, is that his son Parker has no lost both his mom and dad to cancer.
I can't think of a more brutal hand to be dealt as a young 11-year-old kid trying to grow up in all of this. Especially at this time of the year.
Prayers for Parker, and Jeff's family, and many friends during this time.
(For those asking, we're going to be keeping an eye out for what Waddle and Silvy's plan is moving forward and throw our support behind it. Stay tuned)
To all of Jeff's loved ones, sorry for your loss.
R.I.P. Jeff Dickerson
Jeff’s sister in law, and Parker’s Aunt, started a go-fund-me for Parker. Let’s smash this for the Dickerson family.
It is with the heaviest of hearts that I ask for your prayers and support for my late brother-in-law, Jeff Dickerson, and his 11-year-old son, Parker.
Early this year, Jeff was delivered the devastating news that he was diagnosed with colon cancer. Typical JD, he remained completely optimistic for a full recovery, especially to be there for Parker. Jeff is also playing the roll of both parents as just two years ago, Caitlin lost her struggle with an extremely rare form of cancer, leaving then eight-year-old Parker with Jeff his only parent. Without Caitlin, Jeff has done all he could to support Parker, especially his passion for athletics. You could hear the pride in JD’s voice when he talked about Parker’s achievements at such a young age.
Jeff also loves working for ESPN and revered his ESPN colleagues, who have been a constant source of support and inspiration throughout his two decades of work for the network. His unwavering passion for the Bear's was felt by all, including even me, his sister-in-law from St. Louis.
Many people have reached out wanting to know how they can support Parker. We set up this fund to do exactly that. Please know that every dollar raised will directly support Parker’s education, health and welfare … and yes, his athletics. P arker will continue to be surrounded by many fans - doting grandparents Sandy & George, Grandma Patty, aunts, uncles and cousins. We hope this fund becomes a lasting tribute to a loving father, son, a great brother-in-law, uncle, professional, coach, colleague and friend.
Donations to Parker's fund will also benefit the cancer research foundation, The V Foundation, founded by ESPN, in which Jeff was on the board. An extremely generous anonymous donor has come forward to match every $1 raised for Parker by making a matching donation to The V Foundation (up to $60,000). The V Foundation for Cancer Research started in 1993 with a big dream: achieve victory over cancer. Since then, they've awarded over $200 million in cancer research grants and have grown to become one of the premier supporters of cutting-edge cancer research.
We all love you JD!
The entire extended Dickerson, Brody, & Hobin family
Whoever the anonymous donor is gives me faith in humanity.