VIDEO: Sage Steele at IU Commencement — ‘Choose the Harder Right Over Easier Wrong’

Throughout the country, Sage Steele is known as the knowledgeable and bubbly host of NBA Countdown on ESPN/ABC. It’s a primetime role that has her in Los Angeles nearly every weekend throughout the NBA season.

In the state of Indiana, however, she’s known as a Hoosier.

With her father in the military, the Steele family moved often growing up. Ultimately, she graduated from Carmel High School and then Indiana University in Bloomington with a HPER degree in Sports Broadcasting – Broadcast, exactly what she wanted. She has shared publicly numerous times how, at age 12, she informed her family that her dream was to work at ESPN, the Worldwide Leader in Sports.

That was eventually achieved, though it didn’t come without fighting through the many highs and lows every broadcaster goes through.

Steele, who’s been at ESPN for eight years now, was invited to be the commencement speaker at IU this past Saturday, 20 years and three days removed from her own IU commencement.

Sage Steele proudly wearing candy stripe pants under her gown.

Sage Steele, a 1995 graduate, proudly wearing candy stripe pants under her gown.

“When I got this invitation, I read it 10 times and thought ‘This must be a mistake. Are they asking me to come back and do this?’ To say that I’m humbled and honored, it’s the understatement of the century,” Steele said in her opening remarks.

During her 19-minute speech, Steele outlined some of her failures that she pushed through and she challenged graduates to choose the harder right over the easier wrong.

While I was an undergrad, I had the pleasure of listening to the very approachable Steele where she went into detail about her career path and the wisdom she had gained since graduation. And since, she has been so good to me.

Bullet points of Steele’s speech, centering on the message, “How do you choose to live your life?”

  • Her struggles with academics, primarily test taking, as a student.
  • How a relationship with the late Bill Armstrong helped her land her first gig in South Bend.
  • How she moved from a great spot in Indianapolis (WISH-TV) because her boss didn’t believe in her.
  • Choosing family over everything, and turning down ESPN the first time.
  • “When your values and priorities are put to test, what will you do?” she asked. Then, she read a significant line from the United States Military Cadet Prayer: “Make us to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong, and never to be content with a half truth when the whole can be won.”
  • When wishing her fellow IU graduates well, Steele closed her remarks with this thought from her former friend and colleague, the late Stu Scott: “Go have a great rest of your life.”

Before sitting down, Steele went back to the podium to point out to everyone at IU’s Memorial Stadium what she was wearing underneath their gown: Candy stripe pants.

“This is the most important piece in my wardrobe,” she said.

This experience was undoubtedly special for Steele. So much so, that she took a jet from L.A. to Bloomington and back in order to do so. (In July, 2013, she drove the pace car at the Brickyard 400.)

“All I can say is….thank you,” Steele wrote in an Instagram post at day’s end. “Thanks to my alma mater and the @iubloomington class of 2015 for the greatest honor of my life. I am humbled beyond words and will never forget this day!! Congrats, grads…and #GoIU #HarderRightEasierWrong”

No trip — especially from L.A.! — to Bloomington is complete without a stop into Nick’s English Hut.

No place like it!!

A photo posted by @sagesteele on

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