Saunders hosted studio and play-by-play programming for ESPN for nearly 30 years.
He joined ESPN in December 1986 to anchor SportsCenter, but got involved in much more for the sports network.
"He was so wonderful, so talented and the most beautiful thing about him was John Saunders had zero ego," ABC7 News' Larry Beil said. "John Saunders, great, great man, gone at 61."
Saddened and stunned to hear John Saunders has died. Huge talent and smile to match. Gone at 61, far too soon. #RIPJohnSaunders— Larry Beil (@LarryBeilABC7) August 10, 2016
Saunders became a voice on college basketball, the WNBA and hosted ESPN's coverage of the Stanley Cup playoffs from 1993-2004.
He worked on coverage of the World Series and Major League Baseball All-Star game, as well as college football, and hosting The Sports Reporters.
Born in Canada, Saunders was an all-star defenseman in the junior hockey leagues of Montreal and played at Western Michigan before becoming one of the most prominent broadcasters of his time.
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Saunders was a founding member of The V Foundation for Cancer Research and served on the board of directors.
He is survived by wife Wanda and daughters Aleah and Jenna.
John Saunders left an extraordinary legacy. pic.twitter.com/oexhjGOD3T— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) August 10, 2016
"Our sympathy, love & support goes out to all of those who loved & respected our colleague, John Saunders." https://t.co/CsU50fusKG— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) August 10, 2016
We are heartbroken to report longtime ESPN personality John Saunders has died. He was 61. pic.twitter.com/GeRy7wtqNv— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) August 10, 2016