Skating Champ Scott Hamilton Reveals the Conversation He Had with Producer Busbee Shortly Before His Death

"In general, I wake up every day with the thought, 'I'm going to get strong and I'm going to live my life," Hamilton tells PEOPLE

scott hamilton
Scott Hamilton. Photo: Kathryn Costello Photography

In 2019, Grammy-nominated producer and songwriter Busbee was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer known as glioblastoma. And while the music mainstay who had made a career out of working with the likes of artists such as Maren Morris and Keith Urban refrained from telling his closest confidants in the music industry about his dire diagnosis, Busbee did end up sharing his concerns with a man who had battled cancer three times — and won.

That man was figure skating icon Scott Hamilton.

"I spent some time on the phone with him, just encouraging him and trying to help him wrap his head around second opinions or seventh opinions or whatever it would take to extend his life," Hamilton, 63, tells PEOPLE in a recent interview about the powerful conversation he had with Busbee before his September 2019 death. "I was just taken aback by his love of life and family and just how, in his last year, what he created was so profound. It was unbelievable."

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Busbee was just 43 years old at the time of his death.

"If you even Google search the survivor rates for that type of cancer, it'll absolutely rip your heart out," Hamilton notes quietly.

However, Busbee's story ended up resonating with Hamilton long after he hung up the phone following their first and last conversation. So much so that two years later, Hamilton made the decision to dedicate his 5th Annual Scott Hamilton & Friends Ice Show to Busbee. Scheduled to take place Nov. 21 at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, the annual event will help raise money for the Scott Hamilton CARES Foundation and will feature dynamic skating performances from Olympic skaters such as Katia Gordeeva, Ilia Kulik and Kaetlyn Osmond.

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Sure to make the night even more special is the presence of a handful of artists whose personal and professional lives have been touched by Busbee's story, with everyone from country trio Lady A to powerhouse vocalist Grace Potter to Christian pop duo For King & Country set to perform some of the songs Busbee had a hand in making huge hits.

"There's going to be some moments in this show that are just going to allow people to understand what it feels like to be alive," Hamilton explains of the event, in which artists such as Florida Georgia Line, Chris Young and Darius Rucker have performed at throughout the years. "This is what it feels like to feel, and this is what it feels like to empathize, and this is what it feels like to have the power that they have in their hands to change the world."

Hamilton pauses for a moment to collect his thoughts.

"I wouldn't be alive without the research," he continues. "You know, there were these two doctors from Indiana that just came up with a cocktail that allowed my cancer to be eradicated. So, we just got to keep funding research."

scott hamilton
Scott Hamilton. courtesy Scott Hamilton

Indeed, Hamilton has deemed himself a cancer survivor for nearly 25 years following his testicular cancer diagnosis back in 1997 and a brain tumor in 2004. And while he was diagnosed with another brain tumor in 2016, Hamilton says he has currently gone five years without any chemotherapy at all.

"The tumor shrinks and grows and shrinks and shrinks and grows and shrinks," Hamilton notes. "Right now, I'm just focusing on getting strong and working out and eating less and eating cleaner and being active and just laughing a lot. It's just about doing all of those things that allow every cell in your body to just wake up and be alive."

It's a positive attitude that is not always easy to put into action.

"I have my down days, of course," Hamilton admits. "But in general, I wake up every day with the thought, 'I'm going to get strong and I'm going to live my life.'"

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