Steve Byrnes, a grateful heart

Steve Byrnes found the ‘can’ in cancer.

When he underwent his first bout with the disease, the Fox Sports reporter knew he couldn’t back down. He mustered the strength to watch his son Bryson’s football games. He watched funny movies with his wife Karen. He smiled throughout his entire battle, even after it returned.

He refused to let cancer ruin his life.

That’s why losing him hurts so bad.

Early on, Steve gave me advice for my career. He told me to not give up and to swear less. We kept in touch, and I looked at him as the standard. I had the honor of interviewing him last fall on the one-year anniversary of his cancer diagnosis. As we spoke, he talked about his work, health, and family. One major thing became apparent.

He was selfless. All he cared about was how the treatments affected his family. He never complained, and he appreciated every single day.

“It’s about having a grateful heart.”

Those words echo now as I type. Steve was the epitome of a grateful heart, and that was obvious during the past weekend. He reiterated how thankful he was to be in the race name, for the signs, hashtag and opportunity to honor him, Karen, and Bryson.

This humility made him great at his job. Over decades, he acquired credibility and forged relationships with some of the sport’s best racers. It was a different era back then, where reporters and drivers stayed at the same hotel. Friendships were created, and the one he had with Dale Earnhardt Sr. was overwhelmingly genuine. The seven-time champion taught him about life and how to treat people.

“[Earnhardt] treated everyone the same.”

So did Steve.

He was one of the last connections to that era, where he interviewed drivers we now consider legends. That—along with his selflessness and strength—makes him a legend.

The world has lost a remarkable man. I’m grateful we got to know him.

Godspeed, Steve.

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