I’ve been a supporter of the beautiful and intelligent Jemele Hill since she grabbed my attention during one of her appearances on 1st and 10 where she debated against Skip Bayless regarding the validity of Scottie Pippen’s selection as one of the 50 greatest players in the NBA. From that day I knew she would be a force to be reckoned with in the field of sports journalism and I have followed her ever since.
Over the years, Jemele has grown to become an award winning writer and if you haven’t had the pleasure of watching her on ESPN 1st and 10, Numbers Never Lie, and 1st Take , then perhaps you’ve been sleeping under a rock. In a once in a lifetime opportunity, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jemele Hill and here’s what came from the discussion.
Where are you from?
What fueled your decision to become a sports journalist?
I was a big tomboy growing up. I played and watched sports. I also was an avid reader and one of my favorite things to do was to read the sports section (since back then that was the only way to follow your team). I took a high school journalism class and was hooked.
Name one person who was a mentor in your life and how did they help you in becoming the person you are today?
It would be unfair and inaccurate to just name one. I’ve been blessed to have a lot of great mentors who have helped me at different stages in my career.
What are some of your favorite professional sports teams?
I’m a fan of all Detroit teams EXCEPT the Lions. I graduated from Michigan State, so I support them. My NFL team always has been the 49ers (long story).
What is your most memorable “Legendary Moment” in all of professional sports?
I’m not sure how to answer this. And as many cool moments as I’ve had in my career, when I reflect, I don’t often think about stories or interactions I’ve had with so-called big-time pro athletes. I think about the stories I’ve done that I’m really proud of, or historical moments I was able to witness, such as covering the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
You and I both love bowling. How good are you and what’s the highest game you ever bowled?
High game: 220. Been bowling since I was 8 years old. Great stress reliever for me, although I’m super competitive.
I know you most as a person who covers basketball, what other sports do you follow?
I cover it all. I follow everything because I have to be prepared to talk about anything at any given time.
What are the aspects of sports writing you like the most? The least?
There are times, although few and far between, that I’d like to “turn it off.” By that, I mean this: During football season especially, I probably watch 45-60 hours per week of sports. As much as I love sports, there are times where even I reach my limit.
Are there any sports writers you read more than others? If so, why do you like them over other sports writers?
The great thing about the Internet is that it’s allowed me to be exposed to so many good writers and columnists. I like provocative and thoughtful columnists, like Howard Bryant. I usually read Richard Deitsch’s sports media column every week. I read nearly every Wright Thompson piece. A really underrated, terrific writer is Dana O’ Neill. There are just so many people to choose from.