“Fred had an amazing ability to exude intelligence, humor and charm whenever he was on camera,” Jim Walton, the former president of CNN Worldwide, said in a text.
Mike Hill, who worked at ESPN and Fox Sports, wrote on Twitter that Mr. Hickman was a Black role model. “Long before I was inspired by any sports anchor on ‘SportsCenter,’” he wrote. “Fred was the anchor I looked up to. He was solid, great & looked like ME. A rarity back then.”
Mr. Hickman left CNN in 1984 to anchor sports at WDIV-TV in Detroit. While there, he developed a cocaine habit.
“I was a young kid and I was in a city that I didn’t particularly like,” he told The Democrat and Chronicle of Rochester, N.Y., in 1993. After rehabilitation, he left the station in 1986 and rejoined CNN and Mr. Charles later that year. He remained on “Sports Tonight” until 2001. (Mr. Charles died in 2011.)
While at Turner Broadcasting, the parent company of CNN, Mr. Hickman also hosted an N.B.A. pregame and postgame show on TBS and an N.F.L. pregame and postgame show on TNT. He and Mr. Charles also hosted TNT’s 1992 and 1994 Winter Olympics coverage.
In 2000, Mr. Hickman made news when it was revealed that he had cast the only vote against Shaquille O’Neal for the National Basketball Association’s Most Valuable Player Award. He preferred Allen Iverson. That choice led to anonymous threats of personal harm on his office voice mail and to antipathy from Mr. O’Neal for being denied a unanimous vote.
After Mr. Hickman’s long run at CNN, his career turned peripatetic: relatively short stints at YES, ESPN and Fox Sports South, where he hosted Atlanta Braves programming, as well as TV stations in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, La., and Hagerstown, Md. In Baton Rouge and Hagerstown he was a news anchor, which helped satisfy his love of political coverage.