Photo Courtesy of Showtime (From Left: Director Rick Phillips, Nick, Gordon, and Producer Richard Gaughan)
When I think of Nick, I think of a unique individual, one who was intelligent, passionate, sophisticated, well-traveled, interesting, and caring.
And did I say handsome?
Nick found something truly special in each day. My time with him is treasured, and he had a great influence on my life.
More than 10 years ago, Nick left CNN after an illustrious career during which he covered every major sporting event, from the Olympic Games to Super Bowls to Holyfield-Tyson. His career was taking a new direction, and his fascination with the sport of boxing led him to an audition for a blow-by-blow role on a new series on SHOWTIME, “ShoBox: The New Generation.”
He got the job, showing enthusiasm, knowledge, energy, and a can-do attitude. He proceeded to become one of the best and most recognized announcers in the sport.
It was his love for boxing and his fondness for the fighters, trainers, managers, and cutmen that made him a great storyteller. He would often be seen in hotel lobbies, conversing with members of fight camps, referees, judges … anyone who could increase his knowledge of boxing or the particular fight we were to cover.
His enthusiasm reminded me of a little boy waiting for his next Little League baseball game. He couldn’t wait for the next show, preparing tirelessly and eager with anticipation.
Nick’s love of travel was well-known. Though he flew all over the world and had gone to several cosmopolitan cities on the ShoBox tour—from New York, Montreal, and Los Angeles to Las Vegas, Chicago, and London—it was during our travels to New Town, North Dakota, Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, Chester, West Virginia, Widnes, England, and Miami, Oklahoma, that I realized how he could turn the most remote or poor or unattractive place into a point of interest.
We would often drive randomly through cities, towns, and neighborhoods, wondering about the lifestyles of the inhabitants. Nick always made an effort to gain knowledge of each community, often stopping strangers to converse.
It was along these drives that Nick and I spoke of boxing, travel, finance, wine, food, cars, and the love of a good woman–all topics that were dear to him. His knowledge of finance helped make me more conscious of my portfolio. His love of wine and food led me to drink and eat too much. Our talks of family, both the good times and bad times, made me appreciate my family even more.
I remember our talks about his decision to have a child with his wife Cory. That child, daughter Giovanna, turned out to be the sunlight in his life. There was not a day that passed that Nick didn’t mention Cory and how fortunate he had been to find her later in his life. She was his true love.
He often talked about trying to be a better father to his older children, Melissa, Jason, and Katie. He loved them very much, but felt he hadn’t made enough time for them when they were younger due to his hectic career and failed marriages.
I will always remember our times at Rusak Winery in Los Olivos, California, looking over hills filled with horses, the sun setting, a big glass of Shiraz in our hands, and thinking “peace,” and how it didn’t get any better than this.
Or the long ride from Tulsa to Miami, Oklahoma, during which we never ran out of topics to discuss. Or our daily trips to the gym, where I would marvel at how a man 10 years older than me could stay in such great shape.
Nick’s zest and appreciation for life was truly admirable. And his recall of every hotel, restaurant, fight, or venue was remarkable.
I will miss our morning coffee time and catching up on current events.
I will miss his advice.
I am happy that he lived long enough to have seen his dream house built in Santa Fe, and that he knew Cory and Giovanna were settled before the time of his passing.
I am happy that he prepared for death just like he prepared for a show, working continuously to extend his life and, more importantly, enjoying the time he had left. Many others would have quit, but not Nick.
I am happy that Nick lived long enough to express his feelings to those whom he cared most about.
Nick was so instrumental in so many people’s lives; he received literally thousands of e-mails of concern while battling cancer.
Nick will always be remembered as the blow-by-blow announcer on ShoBox, and his contributions helped keep the series on the air long enough that we’ll be celebrating our 10th anniversary.
Nick will be missed, but never forgotten. He’ll always be thought of kindly and respectfully, and he’ll always be remembered as someone who touched many people, all of whom are better for it.
May he Rest In Peace.