Interviewed by Sonia Thompson
Photographed by Rich Arden/ESPN Images
Q: You cover SEC football for ESPN. Did you always want to be a sports writer?
A: When I was little I wanted to be a paleontologist. I was obsessed with dinosaurs, reptiles and sharks. I loved the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Godzilla.
Q: When did you find your true calling?
A: I was proud of being a nerd, but I loved playing baseball and soccer. I started reading. I was obsessed with [ESPN news anchor] Stuart Scott and decided I wanted to go to journalism school.
Q: Who influenced you growing up?
A: My parents. My dad was a professor at Ole Miss. He taught Anthropology, Southern Studies, African-American Studies and Intro to the Blues. My mom was director of the domestic violence shelter in Oxford and taught special education. They were two people who didn’t care what others had to say.
Q: How did you choose the University of Florida?
A: I got more into sports writing in high school. I always had an interest in Florida because I had a cousin in law school there. They had a great journalism school, so it felt like the perfect fit.
Q: How did you get your job with ESPN?
A: My junior year, the Gainesville Sun was looking for someone to write sports. They paid $30 an article. I started writing a weekly SEC column and recruiting blog that got some national attention. ESPN noticed and hired me in 2011 [at age 25]. It was a year to the day of my mother’s passing that I got hired.
Q: You live in Atlanta now. What do you miss about Oxford?
A: I really liked reading Faulkner and going on hikes in Bailey’s Woods. It felt cool to be from the same place and to come out of Oxford as a writer. I love Willie Morris, too. For all its faults, Mississippi has a rich history when it comes to literature and music. I think that’s really special. I take a lot of pride in that.
Categories: Current Features