Basketball Announcer Dick Vitale Emotional During TV Return amid Cancer Battle: 'Didn't Want to Cry'

Dick Vitale
Dick Vitale

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Dick Vitale, the famed college basketball announcer, returned to television on Tuesday night just weeks after announcing he has lymphoma.

The 82-year-old ESPN broadcaster became emotional as he addressed college basketball fans before the start of a game between Gonzaga and UCLA.

"I didn't want to cry," the 82-year-old said as he fought tears at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. "I can't believe I'm sitting here. This is really a big thrill for me."

"I want to thank all you people who sent me so many great messages, [ESPN president] Jimmy Pitaro, all my buddies at ESPN," he continued. "I want to thank certainly my family and all the fans. My, you have been unbelievable."

In October, Vitale wrote an essay for ESPN's Front Row, announcing he had been diagnosed with lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system. Previously, in August, Vitale revealed he had been battling melanoma but had since been cleared of the skin cancer.

"On October 12, I'll be honest with you," Vitale told fans during the broadcast. "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'd ever be courtside again, but to be here today, I'm sorry, I hope I don't cause a problem out there, but I feel so emotional."

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Vitale shared a photograph of himself on social media smiling before heading to Tuesday's game.

"Just making final prep for game @espn10 EST # 1 GONZAGA - #2 UCLA - to be honest on Oct 12 when given the cancer diagnosis I never thought that I would be at courtside tonight / ur 🙏🙏🙏❤️❤️❤️ have helped so so much," Vitale wrote in the caption of the picture.

"To ALL of u in any battle 'Don't ever believe in can't!'" he continued.

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According to the New York Post, Vitale was given a custom jersey from both Gonzaga and UCLA and also received a text message from MLB legend Derek Jeter.

Gonzaga went on to win the matchup 83-63.

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In his October essay, Vitale said he would undergo months of chemotherapy in order to fight the cancer.

"I will fight with all my heart in dealing with the chemo and want to get back stronger than ever," he wrote.

"If you see me, please just give me a fist bump and say a prayer that I can return from being 82 years old to acting like I'm 12," he concluded his essay. "Thanks so much for your love."