ESPN Films’ latest documentary “Dickie V” will debut July 20 on ESPN+. Directed by Nick Nanton (“Rudy Ruettiger: The Walk On,” “Visioneer”), the 80-minute film chronicles the remarkable life and career of Hall of Fame broadcaster Dick Vitale, ESPN’s voice of college basketball for more than four decades, and an inspiration as he’s battled cancer, a disease he’s been fighting on behalf of others for years as well. “Dickie V” will have its linear debut Saturday, July 23 at 4 p.m. ET on ESPN.
You can watch a trailer for the documentary below:
Weaving through the present and the past as it chronicles Vitale’s struggle against melanoma, lymphoma, and ulcerated lesions on his vocal cords with raw, revealing scenes of the broadcaster in the hospital and recovering at home, the documentary also offers a history of ESPN, considering Vitale’s time at the network goes back to its origins. He called the first-ever college basketball game the network aired, Wisconsin at DePaul on December 5, 1979. Since then, he’s done more than a thousand games, his thorough knowledge of the sport brought forth in an enthusiastic, passionate, and never boring style. His “Vitale-isms” have taken on a life of their own, with “Awesome, baby!,” “Get a T.O., baby!”, “PTP’er” (primetime player), M&M’er (a mismatch), “Diaper Dandy” (freshman star), and many more all becoming part of the vernacular.
Along with so many tremendous moments on camera, there’s also been Vitale’s devotion to fighting cancer, well before he was stricken with the disease, a passion originally ignited by his dear friend, college basketball coach Jim Valvano. Vitale’s focus has long been fighting pediatric cancer in particular, and he has helped raise tens of millions of dollars for the cause. The timing of the film is especially poignant considering the 83-year-old Vitale’s recent battle with cancer, and his upcoming honor at the ESPYS as the recipient of the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance.
“Everyone knows the Dick Vitale that shows up with an energetic smile and enthusiastic conversation, but there is so much more to his character beyond his ‘Vitale-isms’,” said Nanton, who produced the film under his Astonish Entertainment label in association with The Montag Group. “In the process of making this film, I realized that his tenacity and heartfelt personality came from a place of deep hurt and a desire to help anyone who had felt the depths of loss he had felt. From childhood bullying by his peers due to the loss of his left eye, to a meteoric rise in coaching, only to be unceremoniously ousted from his dream job as head coach of the Detroit Pistons, to a ‘second career’ in broadcasting that turned out to be his true calling, Vitale’s journey of resilience is one that I know will resonate universally. His is a story of loss, triumph, giving and humanity. It’s one I simply had to tell.”
The film features more than 40 original interviews Magic Johnson, Mike Krzyzewski, Charles Barkley, John Calipari, Robin Roberts, Chris Berman, Mike Tirico, among other leading voices from college basketball, sports broadcasting, and beyond, “Dickie V” is a fun, unforgettable, moving, inspirational ride through an incredible life still being lived, and a poignant tribute to a man still spreading love and joy wherever he goes.