Frank Deford For 37 years, Frank Deford was a commentator on NPR's Morning Edition.
Frank Deford
Courtesy of Frank Deford

Frank Deford

Commentator, Morning Edition

Frank Deford died on Sunday, May 28, at his home in Florida. Remembrances of Frank's life and work can be found in All Things Considered, Morning Edition, and on NPR.org.


Writer and commentator Frank Deford was the author of 20 books. His latest, I'd Know That Voice Anywhere, is a collection of his NPR commentaries and was described by Chicago Tribune as "glorious, hitting all the notes from funny to emotional to profound. ... Once again, his words make sports come alive." Booklist calls it a "rich collection for anyone interested in the sporting life."

The collection was culled from Deford's commentaries on NPR's Morning Edition, dating back to 1980.

On television, Deford was a senior correspondent for 20 years on the HBO show Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel. In magazines, he was a senior contributing writer at Sports Illustrated for 32 years and later became senior editor emeritus.

Two of Deford's books — the novel Everybody's All-American and Alex: The Life Of A Child, his memoir about his daughter who died of cystic fibrosis — have been made into movies. Two of his original screenplays, Trading Hearts and Four Minutes, have also been filmed.

President Obama presented Deford with the medal from the 2012 National Endowment for the Humanities. He is the first writer to receive this award primarily for his work in sports.

As a journalist, Deford was elected to the Hall of Fame of the National Association of Sportscasters and Sportswriters. Deford was voted by his peers as U.S. Sportswriter of The Year six times. The American Journalism Review likewise cited him as the nation's finest sportswriter, and twice he was voted Magazine Writer of The Year by the Washington Journalism Review.

Deford had also been presented with the National Magazine Award for profiles, a Christopher Award and journalism Honor Awards from the University of Missouri and Northeastern University, and he received many honorary degrees. The Sporting News once described Deford as "the most influential sports voice among members of the print media," and GQ called him, simply, "the world's greatest sportswriter."

In broadcast, Deford won both an Emmy and a George Foster Peabody Award. ESPN presented a television biography of Deford's life and work, "You Write Better Than You Play." A popular lecturer, Deford spoke at more than a hundred colleges, as well as at forums, at conventions and on cruise ships around the world.

For 16 years, Deford served as national chairman of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and he remains chairman emeritus. Deford was a graduate of Princeton University, where he had taught in American Studies.

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Story Archive

President Barack Obama laughs with Frank Deford as he awards him the 2012 National Humanities Medal for transforming how we think about sports, during a ceremony in the East Room of White House on July 10, 2013. Carolyn Kaster/AP hide caption

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Deford Says Thanks For A Good Game, Drops Mic

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Let's Ring In Spring With The Masters Golf Tournament

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Baseball's Proposed Changes Are 'Not So Good,' Says Frank Deford

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After Years Of Mediocrity, The Dallas Cowboys Have The NFL's Best Record

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Is It The Concussions? Football Suffers A Ratings Penalty

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100 Years After Epic Mismatch, It's Still True: Carnage In College Football Pays

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New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady sits on the bench during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs, in Kansas City, Mo., on Sept. 29, 2014. Brady will be forced to sit for the first four games of 2016 serving his "Deflategate" suspension. Charlie Riedel/AP hide caption

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Sports Need A Better Playbook For Suspensions

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U.S. swimmer Katie Ledecky holds up her gold medal after winning the women's 800-meter freestyle swimming final at the Aquatics Centre in the Olympic Park during the 2012 Summer Games in London. Lee Jin-man/AP hide caption

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Frank Deford: Olympic Swimmer Ledecky Is This Century's Perfect 10

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This statue of tennis great Arthur Ashe by sculptor Paul Di Pasquale was unveiled on Monument Ave. in Richmond, Va., almost 20 years ago, on July 10, 1996. Steve Helber/AP hide caption

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Statues Of Sports Stars Help Us Remember Them As Larger Than Life

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Dave Pear of the Oakland Raiders puts a stop to Larry Csonka of the Miami Dolphins after a 1-yard gain during fourth-quarter action on Oct. 9, 1979, in Oakland. The Raiders won 13-3. AP hide caption

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What Is Football Doing To Us As A People?

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Brazilian Olympic Committee president Carlos Nuzman shows the lantern containing the Olympic flame brought from Greece as he gets off the plane in Brasilia on May 3. The three-month torch relay across Brazil will end at the opening ceremony on Aug. 5 at Maracana stadium in Rio. Eraldo Peres/AP hide caption

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Why Do Cities Keep Vying To Host The Olympics?

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It's Time To Celebrate The UConn Women's Basketball Team

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Stephen Curry (right) of the Golden State Warriors dribbles toward Pablo Prigioni of the Los Angeles Clippers during the first half of a game at Staples Center on Feb. 20. Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images hide caption

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Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning meets with Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton after an NFL game in Indianapolis in 2011. Manning and Newton will square off in the 50th Super Bowl, in Santa Clara, Calif., on Sunday. The two quarterbacks were No. 1 overall draft picks 13 years apart. AJ Mast/AP hide caption

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Fans cheer for the future Los Angeles Rams NFL team, during a news conference at the Forum in Inglewood, Calif., last Friday. The Rams are returning from St. Louis in 2016 to play in the Los Angeles area. Nick Ut/AP hide caption

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Sometimes, You Have To Pass The Ball

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