Frank Deford passed away on Monday at 78 years old. The legendary sportswriter spent more than 50 years as a contributing writer to Sports Illustrated, penning some of the greatest features this industry has seen. Quite simply, he was a giant in the sports world and will never be replaced.
Deford graduated from Princeton in 1962 and started his career doing research for Sports Illustrated. He worked for CNN and was also a key contributor to HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, while continuing to work for SI throughout his long career. He became a mainstream star in 1981 when his novel Everybody’s All-American was released.
Deford’s sensibility and nose for detail made him not just a great sportswriter, but one of America’s best storytellers. Do yourself a favor and flip through his vast catalog of work today. His feature on Bob Knight from 1981 is a personal favorite. His story on boxer Billy Conn from 1985 is also phenomenal, but there are literally dozens of other all-time great pieces in his archive.
A six-time U.S. Sportswriter of the Year and a two-time Magazine Writer of the Year, Deford’s name will remain synonymous with excellence. He was one of America’s truly great writers, and we mourn the loss of him today.