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ESPN 1000 Bears reporter Jeff Dickerson, 43, dies after battling cancer

Dickerson is survived by his 11-year-old son, Parker, and parents, George and Sandy Dickerson. Dickerson’s wife, Caitlin, died from cancer at 36 in 2019.

ESPN 1000 Bears reporter Jeff Dickerson, 43, died Tuesday after battling colon cancer. Dickerson is survived by his 11-year-old son, Parker, and parents, George and Sandy Dickerson.

Dickerson’s wife, Caitlin, died from melanoma at 36 in 2019. According to ESPN, Dickerson died at the same hospice facility where Caitlin died.

“He was simply the best,” ESPN 1000 morning-show host David Kaplan said. “When people die, everyone says nice things. He was truly that guy. Never had a mean bone in his body.”

“When I walked in there last [Thursday], all these guys were there because we all loved him. Jeff said to me, ‘I just gotta get to my next chemo treatment.’ That was today.”

To honor Dickerson, ESPN 1000 aired local shows all day Wednesday. Mike Greenberg’s national show from noon to 2 p.m. was preempted. (Scroll down for the schedule.)

“He deserves that, to celebrate his life with friends,” said Danny Zederman, who was promoted to program director at ESPN 1000 earlier Tuesday. “We lost a teammate and a close friend. It’s really painful. Tomorrow is gonna be really cathartic.”

To help assist his son, Parker, Dickerson’s sister-in-law, Jen Etling Hobin, set up a GoFundMe page with the proceeds going to help Parker and to help fund cancer research. As of noon Friday, the fund has raised more than $1 million.

Some of Chicago’s sports franchises and leading figures have contributed. The Bears donated $25,000, as did the Green Bay Packers. Also, the owners of the Washington Football Team, Indianapolis Colts, Minnesota Vikings also contributed $25,000. Among the top contributors, 11 NFL franchises or ownership contributed to “Parker’s Fun.”

Former Cubs first basement Anthony Rizzo donated $5,000. Along with Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts and Cubs executives Crane Kenney and Jed Hoyer were among the top givers as well.

Zederman said Dickerson was remarkably strong in what became his final days.

“He went through it with his wife. She battled for years,” Zederman said. “When he was diagnosed, I went to visit him. He had seen the battle firsthand, he knew what was coming for him and he still said, ‘I’m not worried at all. I have to be here.’ I went to visit him Christmas Eve, he was alert, coherent, cracking jokes, and he still was telling me ‘I’m going to beat this thing.’ ”

Dickerson had many roles with ESPN. He began covering the Bears in 2001 with ESPN 1000, then added ESPNChicago.com to his plate in 2009. He moved to ESPN.com full-time in 2013, becoming part of the website’s NFL Nation vertical.

“Jeff did as good a job as anybody can do on what might be the most competitive beat in the city,” Kaplan said. “We all want to work hard, but that Bears beat, you’ve gotta come up with content, the team usually stinks. Jeff was able to be opinionated and break news.”

Said Zederman: “There are people in this business that I think they forget how great it is to work in this business. JD never lost sight of the fact that he was covering his favorite team as a child. He never lost sight he got paid to watch Bears practices. It made him proud to be associated with the Bears. Because of that, he took great pride in his work. He knew about the third-string offensive lineman.”

The Bears released a statement, saying: “We are absolutely heartbroken to learn of the passing of our friend and colleague Jeff Dickerson. Always the consummate professional, JD took a great deal of pride in his coverage of the Bears for 20 years. He was a true professional and even better person.”

Dickerson also hosted a national radio show with Jonathan Hood, was a TV analyst for Loyola men’s basketball and reported for ABC 7. Dickerson graduated from Buffalo Grove High School and attended the University of Illinois.

Update: Dickerson’s age was corrected. He would’ve turned 44 in January.

To contribute to “Parker’s Fund,” click here.