John Saunders, longtime ESPN reporter, dead at 61

BRISTOL, Conn. -- John Saunders, best known for his work on ABC and ESPN, has died at the age of 61, ESPN announced on Wednesday.

Saunders was best known for his recent work on ESPN's The Sports Reporters. He joined ESPN in 1986.

Saunders was an advocate for juvenile diabetes research and is a founding board member of the Jimmy V Foundation for cancer research.

Saunders also hosted several studios shows, including Saturday night football on ABC.

Saunders, originally from Canada, is survived by his wife, Wanda, and two daughters, Aleah and Jenna.

John Skipper, president of ESPN and co-chairman of Disney Media Networks, issued a statement on Wednesday.

"John was an extraordinary talent and his friendly, informative style has been a warm welcome to sports fans for decades. His wide range of accomplishments across numerous sports and championship events is among the most impressive this industry has ever seen. More importantly, John was a beloved and devoted family man who cared deeply about people and causes, as evidenced by his long-standing efforts as a passionate board member for The V Foundation for Cancer Research. He was one of the most significant and influential members of the ESPN family, as a colleague and mentor, and he will be sorely missed. Our thoughts are with his loved ones at this extremely difficult time."