Former “SportsCenter” anchor Jemele Hill announced her departure from ESPN on Friday, nearly a year after she called President Trump a “white supremacist,” prompting the White House to call for her dismissal.
There were multiple reports of Hill’s pending departure late last month, and she confirmed the move in a Friday tweet, writing that she became “the best version of myself, both personally and professionally” at ESPN.
“However, the time has come for me to begin a new chapter in my life," she wrote.
She thanked by name a number of current and former network executives for their support during her 12 years at ESPN, and singled out “SportCenter" co-anchor Michael Smith for exuberant praise. The two hosted the 6 p.m. version of the show, a program the network branded as “SC6,” built around their personalities and featuring coverage of the intersection of sports, culture and race. Her tenure on that show lasted less than a year; she left “SportsCenter” in January and joined The Undefeated, an ESPN site, returning to writing and reporting.
“I love you and you made me better in every possible way,” Hill wrote of Smith. “I’m proud of everything we did, because nobody sold tapes out the trunk quite like us.”
Hill prompted national headlines last September, when she tweeted in a reply to others that “Donald Trump is a white supremacist who has largely surrounded himself w/ other white supremacists.”
Two days later, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called the remarks “a fireable offense” and “one of the more outrageous comments that anyone could make.” The network called Hill’s tweet “inappropriate.”
Less than a month later, Hill suggested that NFL fans could choose not to patronize the Dallas Cowboys sponsors if they were angry at owner Jerry Jones, who had said he would bench players if they did not stand for the national anthem. ESPN suspended her for two weeks, while Trump criticized her on Twitter.
Hill on Friday did not say where she’d be working next, but made clear she planned on bringing her spirited personality back to Twitter now that she does not represent ESPN.
“I feel like i need to say this now as a warning. I was going out of my way not to cuss some of y’all out because I had a job and a corporation to represent. But now, I don’t have one,” she tweeted at a troll, along with a choice insult.
Former ESPN colleagues showered Hill with praise on her last day at the network.
“All love and only love,” wrote Scott Van Pelt.
“Her heart, strength, compass, fearlessness & commitment are always on display; her independence, accountability & humanity a lesson to all journalists,” wrote “Around the Horn” host Tony Reali.
“Thank you for being a badass boss babe & for reaching down to lift others up,” wrote Sarah Spain. “Can’t wait to see what’s next!”
Mina Kimes called her “a source of inspiration to so many women at ESPN, myself included.” Cari Champion wrote that there’s “no one better inside and out!” And Myron Medcalf wrote “you’ve inspired all of us. All of us.”
Hill wrote in her statement that she was “humbled and forever grateful” to have worked with her ESPN colleagues, and that “I’ll always be rooting for you.”
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