Saturday, June 24, 2006

Did you ever know that you're my hero?

Pardon the obviously hokey title, but before settling in for an awesome NBA's Greatest Games Marathon on ESPNClassic, I finally got to see the One-Hour documentary on the late great Ralph Wiley, arguably the pioneer of today's black sportswriters. Ralph died two years ago during the NBA Finals, forever relegating my dream of meeting him to just that, but I still find myself inspired by this man, who went from a mere copy boy at the Oakland Tribune in the mid 70s, to one of the pioneering voices in not just sports journalism, but in black culture.

Ralph Wiley clearly had his own style. If you ever read ESPN.com's page 2 between 2001 and his untimely passing, you knew Ralph. His musings on everything from O.J. Simpson being an Uncle Tom (and Ralph clearly was not a fan of the verdict), to the women who held the hammers of God in the Kobe Bryant sexual assualt trial, he was entertaining, insightful, witty, and just on point. Bottom Line. I know when I read a Ralph Wiley essay/column/story, I felt smarter, I felt entertained, and even more importantly, I felt motived, inspired, and moved to become what I want to be, and that is a sportswriter.

Aside from humanizing John Thompson, Eric Davis, and Mike Tyson, he also took on a larger role in the black community, publishing books about why it's o.k. to be angry (Why black people tend to shout), but why it's never o.k. for black people to hate eachother.

He worked with Spike Lee on the groundbreaking Malcolm X book/movie project, he mentored the next generation of African American sports scribes, and he never had to dumb down or change for anybody. That alone makes Ralph Wiley my professional hero.
continue...

Posted by Chris at 11:03 PM | link

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As usual, wonderful post dear. I too have a few writers like that. Well actually a lot. Authors and reporters. So I won't waste space listing them.

Posted by Blogger Vdizzle @ 1:29 AM, June 26, 2006 #
 

I got into the Sports Journalism game late, but once I read a few of RW's joints I realized that this is what I was called to do.

Not everyone is lucky enough or should I say blessed to be given the oppurtunity to change lives with words. To paint a picture of extreme importance and not miss a stroke. That's what RW was. His writing was a perfectionists' delightly devine vision. He was inspirational, nonjudgmental, real, and human all in one.

He spoke the truth, kept things real, and changed the way mainstream society looked at the black athletes.

Posted by Blogger J. Montez "Real Talk" @ 4:51 PM, June 27, 2006 #
 

Great post. I discovered Ralph Wiley's Why Black People Tend to Shout, while I was in college. Hands down, the best book of essays I've ever read.
He had an unmistakable and uncompromising voice. He had a sharp wit and crackling intelligence that came through his writing.

Posted by Blogger PopCultman @ 5:21 PM, June 27, 2006 #
 

A friend of mine pointed out this entry to me and I'm glad that she did. It's always interesting to see, read, and hear people's thoughts about my father's work. I guess ESPN has recently been reairing the doc they did a year ago, so I have been getting even more flattering messages about RW. Believe it or not, his fathering skills outshined his writing skills by a WIDE margin. I have quite a legacy to uphold, but trust me y'all, I am out here doing my best. >CW<

Posted by Blogger Cole Wiley @ 9:19 PM, June 27, 2006 #
 
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