Commentary

Phrase 'pays' off with special new pals

Updated: August 16, 2011, 4:35 PM ET
By Dick Vitale | ESPN.com

I love spending time with sports fans. Recently I had the special opportunity to meet a gentleman named Ron Cottom.

You may have heard his name before. He was the winner of the Sunkist Phrase that Pays contest, which gave him $10,000 and a trip to visit me at my home in Florida, as well as dinner. His winning phrase was, "Call the electrician baby, they are shooting the lights out!"

Cottom and his buddy, youth pastor and former coach Scott Carter, flew in from Tupelo, Mississippi. You know who came from Tupelo? That's right, The King, Elvis Presley!

Both of them have talented athletes for children. Ron's son, Matt, is a talented cross country runner. Carter has a talented young son named Drew, who is one of the top baseball prospects in America. The 6'4" youngster can really throw the pill, baby! In fact, he is playing on an amateur team which recently competed on ESPN and is coached by former first-round pick Kirk Presley.

We had a great time sharing sports stories. One in particular was a riot to me.

Scott Carter played basketball at Millsaps College. One night, when I was doing a Syracuse-UAB basketball game, the Millsaps players were watching because they had a game against the Blazers coming up. Sure enough, I talked about UAB having cupcake city on the schedule and I read off some of their opponents; that list included Millsaps and Carter told me the whole team went nuts laughing when they heard that!

I said to UAB coach Gene Bartow that I thought they were playing Ronnie Milsaps, the country singer!

What memories sharing fun stories about sports.

On a somber note, Scott Carter has a 4-year-old friend who has been battling leukemia. He has been recovering at St. Jude's Hospital in Memphis, where they do a phenomenal job. The young man has had positive reports recently and that is good news. It just shows how we have to beat these dreaded diseases and shows that the V Foundation does such great work.

Cottom and I also have something in common as we both lost sight in an eye early in life.

Both guys were tremendous sports fans and I will treasure the time spent with them.

Dick Vitale

College Basketball analyst
Dick Vitale, college basketball's top analyst and ambassador, joined ESPN during the 1979-80 season. His thorough knowledge of the game is brought forth in an enthusiastic, passionate style. Vitale also contributes columns to ESPN.com.