ESPN personality Sage Steele returned to work Wednesday and anchored “SportsCenter” for the first time since being hit by a golf ball at the PGA Championship on May 19. She was at Southern Hills Country Club covering the tournament for ESPN when an errant Jon Rahm tee shot struck her in the face.
Steele took a few minutes during the show to reflect on the traumatic experience and acknowledge the people who’ve offered her support.
“It is amazing how quickly life can change, right?” Steele said. “One moment you’re out on a course just innocently watching amazing golfers play at a golf major. The next moment, you’re on the ground, you’re in pain with your entire life flashing before your eyes scared to death.”
Steele went through a list of those she wanted to thank, starting with God.
“Thanks to God, because honestly … I feel like the luckiest person in the world to still be here and be standing,” she said.
She expressed gratitude for the support she received after the accident pic.twitter.com/wMVViXUWPA
— ESPN PR (@ESPNPR) June 8, 2022
She went on to thank all who offered words of encouragement during her recovery, both people she knows personally and the well-wishers who are total strangers. She also specifically mentioned her appreciation for everyone who prayed for her.
“I want to thank my friends and family, whether we’re related by blood or not,” Steele said. “Thank you to all of you. You know who you are. And all those thousands of people who reached out and prayed for me who I’ll never even meet, thank you because I felt all of it.”
Steele also mentioned prayer in the statement she released through ESPN in the days following the incident.
“I just want to thank everyone for your concern and prayers during the last couple of days,” her statement said in part.
— ESPN PR (@ESPNPR) May 21, 2022
Steele was emotional throughout her comments about her injury and recovery on Wednesday. However, the most emotional thank-you was saved for Matt Barrie, her “SportsCenter” co-host. Barrie was with Steele when she was struck and visited her in the hospital. Steele credited Barrie with helping her remain calm and keeping her spirits up.
“Thank you for making me smile through all of it,” she said. “I need you. I needed you then and I love you with all of my heart. I’ll never forget it.”
Steele has held a variety of roles since joining ESPN in 2007, including hosting the Scripps National Spelling Bee and “NBA Countdown.” She used to anchor “SportsCenter” in the morning and at 6 p.m. before moving to the noontime edition of the show in February 2021.
Steele, who describes herself as a “Believer” in her Instagram bio, has been known to speak at churches and mention her faith on social media. Now back at work, Steele hopes her story of recovery will be an inspiration to others.
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