Longtime ESPN Personality John Saunders Dead at 61 He spent nearly 30 years with the sports network By Michael Harthorne, Newser Staff Posted Aug 10, 2016 12:21 PM CDT 17 comments Comments Longtime ESPN personality John Saunders died at the age of 61. (Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images via AP) (Newser) – John Saunders, a host and anchor at ESPN for three decades, is dead at the age of 61, Hannah Storm announced on the sports network Wednesday, at times breaking down. Saunders started at ESPN as a SportsCenter anchor in 1986. He went on to host The Sports Reporters and cover basketball, college football, and the NHL. The Canadian native and former college hockey player was a founding member of the V Foundation for Cancer Research, USA Today reports. A cause of death was not given. According to the New York Daily News, Saunders spoke at the National Association of Black Journalists just last week. The president of ESPN calls Saunders an "extraordinary talent." Colleague Dick Vitale tells ESPN that Saunders "represented everything that was good in a human being." And The Sports Reporters panelist Mike Lupica tells the Daily News that Saunders was "one of the kindest and best people I have ever known." He is survived by a wife and two daughters.