10 Things You Didn’t Know About Jemele Hill

They say no person is exactly like the other and our fingerprints prove it. Everyone has a trait that makes them who they are; some it is their unwavering compassion while for others, it is a flaring temper. Whatever it is, all our traits build up to the person we become and maybe even the careers we choose. For Jemele Hill, it is no different. Hill has become a force to reckon with in the journalism profession specifically in the sports category. You cannot talk of legendary sports anchors without mentioning Jemele Hill. However, her career has not gone without sparks of controversy here and there with some threatening to end it. Being an outspoken person, she has never been one to hold her tongue when only words can describe her thoughts. Maybe that is why she chose to be a journalist. Well, we can never really know a person but here are ten things that might help you understand who Jemele Hill is.

1. Jemele Hill began writing as a child

She wrote stories about rich lawyers as a kid, a fact she attributes to growing without lots of money in the L.A era. Her passion for writing saw her decide to become a sports writer in high school. Jemele, therefore, journalism as her elective in junior high school.

2. She started her sports writing career in 1997

In May 1997, Jemele became a general assignments sports writer at The News & Observer in Raleigh, where she worked for the next 18 months. She joined Detroit Free Press in 1999 and got the chance to cover the 2004 NBA playoffs and summer Olympics. Hill then worked for Orland Sentinel until 2006 when ESPN hired her.

3. Jemele Hill has been honored severally for her contribution through journalism

Hill was awarded the North Carolina Press Association Award in 1998 for sports feature writing. In 2007 at the annual Poynter Sports media summit, she became the first recipient of the Van McKenzie cup, which is in honor of the late Van McKenzie, an innovative sports editor. In 2018, the National Association of Black Journalists recognized Hill as Journalist of the Year.

4. Her father is a recovering drug addict

Jemele’s father, Jerel Brickerson was a heroin drug addict as a young adult. He began experimenting with the drug at 19 due to peer pressure and lots of free time. By the time he was 30, Jerel had become an addict. He began his recovery journey when he became a bartender at Olympia Club in Joe Louis Arena where he could watch Detroit Red Wings home games. He’s been sober for over two decades and now counsels drug addicts after attaining a master’s degree.

5. Jemele Hill was raised by a single mother

Denise Dennard, Jemele’s mother, separated from her husband, Jerel after finding him with baby Jemele in one arm and a heroin needle stuck in the other arm. However, when Jemele went to high school, she stayed with her grandmother in Southfield, a Detroit suburb.

6. ESPN suspended Jemele twice

Jemele’s first suspension lasted a week after she expressed her hate for the Celtics in the 2008 NBA playoffs. She referenced Adolf Hitler in her comment saying rooting for the Celtics was like saying Hitler was a victim. Though they published her remarks, they were later stricken, and she had to offer a public apology through ESPN. Hill was suspended again in 2017 this time for two weeks after she violated ESPN’s social media policy twice. The first violation involved calling President Donald Trump a “white supremacist,” “bigot” and “the most offensive president of her lifetime.” The second violation was a tweet which suggested people boycott sponsors of the Dallas Cowboys.

7. Jemele’s mother was raped at gunpoint when Jemele was five years old

Denise, Hill’s mother, moved the family to Houston and in 1980 as she came back from work, she got pulled into a van where she was raped. The incidence sparked paranoia in Denise, and besides sleeping with lights on, she had a bat, 12- gauge shotgun and a knife under her bed. She also moved to Detroit, but the experience had taken its toll on her; she developed PTSD.

8. Hill’s mother developed a drug problem due to the rape incident

Denise tried to conquer her PTSD after the rape with prescription drugs which she ended up abusing. Fortunately, she overcame the drug abuse in her 40s and became clean. Denise is now working towards achieving her master’s degree.

9. Jemele bought her mother, a Mercedes Benz

When ESPN’s executive Rob King told Jemele and Smith he would move them from His & Hers to The Six; Hill celebrated by buying extravagant gifts for her close friends and family. Her mother, Denise, got a Mercedes-Benz C300 for which she expressed gratitude by saying it was not just a car, but an experience.

10. ESPN bought out Jemele’s contract worth $2.5 million

Due to Jemele’s tweets about President Trump, ESPN’s President Jimmy Pitaro thought it wise to part ways with Jemele, amicably, citing that he does not want the network to engage in politics. The amicable resolution was to buyout Jemele’s contract worth $2.5 million.


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