Longtime sportswriter Frank Deford, who spent decades at Sports Illustrated and NPR, died Sunday at age 78.
His family says he died Sunday in Key West, Florida.
Deford began his career at Sports Illustrated in 1962 and left the outlet in 1989 to become editor of The National, a daily sports newspaper with a grandiose vision of providing in-depth sports news that ceased publication after only 18 months. Deford eventually returned to Sports Illustrated, where he most recently held the title of senior editor emeritus.
Deford was also a fixture on HBO’s Real Sports and had retired earlier this month from his commentary gig on NPR that he held for 37 years.
Deford was awarded the National Humanities Medal by President Obama in 2013.
“A dedicated writer and storyteller, Mr. Deford has offered a consistent, compelling voice in print and on radio, reaching beyond scores and statistics to reveal the humanity woven into the games we love,” Obama said in his medal citation (per SI.com).
Deford, who lost a daughter at age 8 due to cystic fibrosis, crusaded to put an end to the crippling lung disease and served as the national chairperson for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
The Associated Press contributed to this report.