We recently published a profile of Skip Bayless, the polarizing house debater of ESPN’s “First Take.” Bayless this week participated in ESPN’s entertaining His and Hers podcast and noted early in the discussion his interviews with The Washington Post.
Bayless began the Post interview noting that he’s a very complex person and he promised nothing would be off the record because he felt he had nothing to hide. Then he did something few subjects ever had: He laid out the bullet points of his life. Bayless has been a professional journalist for 40 years. He knows how to write profiles, and one night earlier he thought about what makes him an interesting subject. He scribbled down nine bullet points. Because he mentioned it on the podcast and some have asked – and the full list was cut from the original story due to space constraints – here they are:
No. 1: The No. 1 thing you should know about me: I’ve always tried to put God first in my life, and I’m the first to admit I often have failed because I’m too proud and too stubborn. When I was a little kid going to Methodist church, I actually envisioned one day that I would become a minister but I never pursed that. Now, if I have any regret — if I wasn’t doing this job, I would be an orthopedic surgeon, because I like to help people. …I’m not trying to come across as pious because I’m not. But it’s bigger than most people know about me.
No. 2: What drove me the most into this profession was extreme athletic frustration. I was very good up until the age 14 or 15 in basketball and baseball. I was hit between the eyes with issues in both sports in high school that rocked my whole consciousness, my world. I look back now — God works in mysterious ways. It drove me into this.
No. 3: Both my parents were alcoholics and I came from a broken home. Yet I would want you to know as much as my mother was not there for me — I don’t know what possessed her, but she made me do two things in my life. She made me go to church every Sunday, and she forced me to take speech lessons from about age 8 until 12. I asked her recently, “Why did you do that?” She said, “Well, my mother did it for me and I thought it would be good for you.” Well, it wasn’t good for me, it was great for me.
No. 4: You should also know, my job is not a job; it’s my life. And I believe my ability to do the show at the highest level has something to do with my fitness level. This is extreme what I do to myself on a daily basis. It is hard …We’re two hours live, five days a week I still leap out of bed at 5 a.m. every day to do the job. As Stephen A. (Smith) will tell you, I wear on people because my strength and my weakness is my intensity. I bring it every day. Right or wrong, fair or foul, I’ll bring every last ounce that I have. I’ve told him, he needs to get in better shape because this is grueling.
No. 5: Two women in my life played crucial roles beyond my mother. A woman worked for my grandmother, who was not a wealthy lady but she traveled for her job. She hired a black woman …her name was Katie Bell Henderson, and she was as tough and sweet a woman as I’ve ever encountered. …She became a family member. …She became my authority figure. I learned right from wrong from Katie Bell. …
Alcohol was rampant throughout my whole extended family. My grandfather was a raging alcoholic. He would come home — he owned a drive-in restaurant — and if I was staying over there, Katie Bell would hide us in the basement because she thought he would harm us.
The second was my high school journalism teacher, Elizabeth Burdette. …She encouraged me absurdly. I wasn’t that good and she made me feel like I was Hemingway.
No. 6: My passion for books, movies, theater and several cable TV series rivals my passion for sports.
No. 7: Nothing in my life to this day gives me more satisfaction than writing something that I like, which has rarely happened.
No. 8: I like fast cars, and I always have. …Right now I drive a Camaro ZL1 that has ridiculous horsepower — close to 600 horse. I just get a great kick out of it. But I’m responsible. … I raced a lot when I was in high school, street raced. I had a ‘67 Camaro, an SS350… I don’t race this car, but I will accelerate to the speed limit very quickly.
No 9: Ernestine, my fiancee. I’ve had four long-term relationships in my life. I was married right out of college to my junior high school sweetheart, which was a big mistake. …It took me four tries to find a woman — Ernestine — who could live with my obsession with my job. She was the first one. I declared on the first date, I said, “My job is my first priority. You will never be more important than my job for me.” She accepted it. I was old enough to know, I’m not gonna do this again; can she live with this? And she does. She’s the strongest-willed and can elbow her way into my life better than the others.