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Last month, I told you the story of ESPN anchor and reporter Sage Steele, who was watching from the gallery of the PGA Championship at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Okla. when golfer Jon Rahm hit an errant tee shot that careened into the gallery and hit Steele in the face. Steele had finished her shift covering the tournament for ESPN and was watching as a spectator when the ball hit her.
One writer reported that an eyewitness said “they ‘saw her on the ground, holding her nose, mouth or chin area’ and her hands ‘covered in blood’ … The impact must have been brutal: Rahm’s tee shot ended up in the center of the fairway.”
Steele first went to the hospital, then went home to Connecticut and did not return to ESPN’s coverage of the tournament. The 49-year-old sportscaster returned to ESPN on Thursday, and her first moments back on television were emotional.
Steele noted how “it’s amazing how quickly life can change.” She thanked God, her family and friends, those who “reached out and prayed for” her, and her dentist (whom she called her “best friend in the world”).
“I feel like the luckiest person in the world to still be here and be standing after that, which was three weeks ago tomorrow,” she said. “So thanks — thank You, God.”
She went out of her way to thank her co-anchor Matt Barrie, who was on set with her on Thursday morning. Barrie was by her side when the accident happened, and he reassured her and kept cameras away from her in the aftermath of the hit.
Steele looked amazing, although you could tell that the left side of her mouth wasn’t 100%. She admitted that there’s “a long way to go, and a lot of stuff still has to be done.”
“I’ve told a couple of people that it was 1 in 50 million, and I’ll say this — and I’ve said it before — you took that like a champ,” Barrie told Steele.
“Here’s what I want to see is you back at work,” he added.
Steele is a rare breed at CNN: a conservative Christian who’s unafraid to talk about her beliefs off the set while maintaining professionalism on camera. Earlier this year, she sued ESPN and its parent company, The Walt Disney Company, for violations of free speech and for, she claims, withholding opportunities to her because she speaks out for what she believes.
It’s good to see Sage Steele back on SportsCenter. I’m praying that she continues to recover.