Dick Vitale is in another fight against cancer. For the fourth time, it’s his own.

Even if you think Dick Vitale is an overexposed, overbearing and overcaffeinated bloviator of the highest order who sends you directly to the mute button each time he appears on your television, you should keep Dickie V in your prayers.

Here’s why: College basketball’s most famous broadcaster underwent surgery Tuesday morning to remove a cancerous lymph node in his neck discovered during a quarterly checkup last week.

This is the fourth time in the last five years that Vitale has been diagnosed with cancer. The 85-year-old has been previously treated for melanoma, lymphoma and cancer on his vocal cords.

All this for the man who has raised millions of dollars for pediatric cancer research. On May 3, Vitale’s 19th annual gala in Sarasota, Florida, raised $24.8 million for the Jimmy V Foundation and cancer research, including a $12 million gift from Mark and Cindy Pentecost, the founder of It Works.

Vitale’s health problems have been the main reason why we haven’t seen the sport’s most visible and enthusiastic broadcaster on the airwaves much over the last couple of seasons.

Maybe you haven’t missed him. I get it. Vitale is a love-him-or-hate-him guy. You either go for his enthusiasm, his “Awesome Baby” and “Diaper Dandies” and “PTPers” and love for the “Cameron Crazies” and all things Notre Dame or you consider him the ultimate self-promoter.

Dick Vitale, center, stands with host Kevin Negandhi, far left, and the 2024 Vitale Gala honorees from left to right: Jim Kelly, Derek Jeter, Jeff Gordon, Rick Barnes and Shane Jacobson.
Dick Vitale, center, stands with host Kevin Negandhi, far left, and the 2024 Vitale Gala honorees from left to right: Jim Kelly, Derek Jeter, Jeff Gordon, Rick Barnes and Shane Jacobson.

Even as a Vitale defender, I will admit that at times his penchant for talking about everything but the game we are watching — an enduring pet peeve with all ESPN announcers — can drive a viewer up the wall.

Here’s what I do know: Dick Vitale is one of the nicest people on the planet.

He has never turned down a picture request or autograph request or interview request or hospital visit or motivational phone call. He has gone out of his way to help people. In more ways than any of us can count.

And the “one-eyed, bald-headed guy” has done as much or more to promote college basketball as anyone else. It’s the reason why he’s in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, the College Basketball Hall of Fame and the National Sports Media Association Hall of Fame.

Personal story: A couple of decades ago, Vitale was promoting one of his books when he made a stop at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Lexington Green. I took my youngest son to meet Dick, who was accompanied by his Sarasota neighbor, the late Jerry Healy, owner of several McDonald’s restaurants in Central Kentucky.

A week or so later, a package arrived in the mail. It contained a signed basketball and other assorted gifts for my son. It was from Dickie V.

In 2008, when Vitale was voted into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame, I met his wife Lorraine and daughters Terri and Sherri. I couldn’t help but tell them how much I appreciated how kind Dick had been to me over the years. And I wasn’t alone.

After his first two bouts with cancer, Vitale returned to ESPN in November of 2021 to work the Gonzaga-UCLA game in the Good Sam Empire Classic. As you might have expected, he was emotional, crying at the start of the broadcast with partner Dave O’Brien.

“On October 12, I’ll be honest with you,” Vitale said, “when they walked in and told me I had cancer, they thought it was bile duct cancer, and it was really going to be a serious surgery and all, I never dreamt at 82 that I’m going to be courtside again but to be here again, I’m sorry, I hope I don’t cause a problem out there, but I feel so emotional.”

Then came last year when Vitale endured six weeks of radiation treatments — that he chronicled on social media — for vocal cord cancer, which required him to be silent, probably for the first time in his entire life. By November, Vitale declared he was cancer-free but had to delay his return to broadcasting.

Now he’s back in the cancer fight again.

“I will win this battle,” he posted on X.

A little prayer wouldn’t hurt.

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