ESPN Anchor Returns to TV After Bizarre Accident

(Photo Credit: MGN Online)

(Photo Credit: MGN Online)

By Thom Patterson, CNN

(CNN) — Less than a month after suffering serious burns in a propane grill accident, sports broadcasting pioneer Hannah Storm returned to TV Tuesday, hosting Southern California’s historic Rose Parade.

Storm, host of ESPN’s morning “SportsCenter,” was using a propane gas grill outside her Connecticut home three weeks ago when it exploded, ABC said, causing her first- and second-degree burns. Storm lost her eyebrows, eyelashes and much of her hair, according to the network.

“Can’t begin to thank you all enough for your kindness and support,” Storm tweeted Tuesday before the parade. On Monday she tweeted, “Especially thankful this New Year’s!”

The only on-camera evidence of her accident was Storm’s bandaged left hand, which was visible at the beginning of the parade broadcast.

“The healing process has begun, and you look as good as ever,” said her co-host, Josh Elliott, Storm’s former partner at ESPN.

“The best medicine is being with you,” she said.

Few details are known about Storm’s accident. ESPN said it would not comment and CNN was unable to contact the anchor Tuesday.

At one point during the parade broadcast, Storm added a personal note as a float honoring the parade’s president — a nurse — passed by. “Thanks to all the great nurses at Westchester burn unit” who have “been to my house every day for the last couple of weeks helping me be here today,” Storm said.

Celebrating its 124th year, the parade has made Pasadena famous with its magnificent, colorful floats decorated with rose and other flower petals, stems and leaves. The parade’s theme this year is “Oh, the Places You’ll Go,” a tip of the hat to children’s author Dr. Seuss.

An Atlanta native and Notre Dame alum, Storm pioneered her way into the world of sports journalism. She began her career in the early ’80s, when the TV sports industry hired few women. “I literally couldn’t get anyone to hire me,” she told Forbes.com in 2009. “Having a woman do sports was seen as too risky.”

Her persistence led to on-air sports jobs at CNN and NBC — where she covered high-profile events including the Olympics, baseball’s World Series and the Wimbledon tennis championship. Later, Storm hosted CBS News’ “Early Show,” where she transcended sports and interviewed newsmakers such as Barack Obama and George W. Bush.

Storm, who was born with a port wine stain birthmark underneath her left eye, founded a charitable organization that helps children with debilitating and disfiguring vascular birthmarks.