- Noel Vasquez/Getty
After tweeting that NFL fans could consider boycotting companies that sponsor the Dallas Cowboys if they want to hurt team owner Jerry Jones’ bottom line, popular “SportsCenter” host Jemele Hill was suspended from ESPN on Monday for violating the network’s social media guidelines.
It wasn’t the first time Hill caused a Twitter controversy. In September, she made headlines for calling President Donald Trump a “white supremacist” in a series of critical tweets.
Hill has been unafraid to speak her mind from her first years with ESPN, allowing fans to hear a wide range of views on sports, politics, and pop culture. Below, read more about Hill’s rise through the ranks of sports media, culminating with her major star turn over the past couple of months.
Jemele Hill was born in Detroit and attended Michigan State University. She worked for newspapers in Detroit, Raleigh, and Orlando before joining ESPN as a national columnist in 2006.
- Robin Marchant/Getty
She quickly became a rising star at the network, appearing on shows like “First Take,” “Outside the Lines,” and “Around the Horn.”
While Hill has become a respected name in sports media, she’s had a penchant for controversial statements from early on in her career. In a 2008 column, she compared supporting the Boston Celtics to believing that Adolf Hitler was a victim.
Source: Bleacher Report
ESPN wound up removing a portion of the article, and Hill apologized for the comparison. She was still suspended for one week.
- D Dipasupil/Getty
Source: Bleacher Report
In 2011, Hill started the “His & Hers” podcast with Michael Smith, a fellow ESPN writer and former reporter for the Boston Globe. She later joined Smith’s show “Numbers Never Lie” as a co-host.
- Leon Bennett/Getty
The show had a strong following, but may have been best known for their many spoof videos, including this one that was a take on a scene from “Anchorman.”
In 2014, “Numbers Never Lie” was renamed “His & Hers.” Stephen Battaglio of the Los Angeles Times wrote that Hill and Smith possessed “wound-up energy that comes from years of turning out columns and stories under tight newspaper deadlines.”
Source: Los Angeles Times
In February, Hill and Smith became the evening anchors of the latest incarnation of the 6 p.m. “SportsCenter,” renamed, “SC6.”
In September, Hill took to Twitter and accused President Donald Trump of being a white supremacist. While Hill and Trump disagree on a number of issues, Trump’s perceived haphazard support for historically black colleges was what sparked the comment.
The tweets drew a swift and harsh response from the White House, which suggested that ESPN should fire Hill. “I’m not sure [Trump is] aware but I think that’s one of the more outrageous comments that anyone could make and certainly something that I think is a fireable offense by ESPN,” said press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
Source: The Washington Post
Trump himself responded to Hill via Twitter. He slammed ESPN for its programming and perceived political leanings and demanded an apology.
Source: Entertainment Weekly
In light of the controversy, ESPN reportedly attempted to replace Hill on “SC6” that night, but Smith refused to go on the air without his longtime collaborator. The network then offered Elle Duncan and Michael Eaves a chance to host, but they turned it down. Hill and Smith continued on the air as scheduled.
Hill expressed regret for her actions in an essay for The Undefeated. While she stood by the remarks, she also wrote that “fair or not, people can’t or won’t separate who I am on Twitter from the person who co-hosts the 6 p.m. SportsCenter.”
Source: The Undefeated
Hill was in the news again in October, when she suggested that boycotting the Dallas Cowboys’ advertisers may be the best way to impact Jerry Jones’ bottom line. Jones had recently told his team that he would bench any player who chose to kneel during the national anthem.
Source: New York Post
This time, Hill was suspended for one week for her tweets. ESPN termed the incident “a second violation of our social-media guidelines.”
- Mike Windle/Getty
Source: New York Post
Trump took the opportunity to take another shot at Hill, this time in more direct terms. “With Jemele Hill at the mike, it is no wonder ESPN ratings have ‘tanked,’ in fact, tanked so badly it is the talk of the industry!” he tweeted.
- Alex Wong/Getty Images
Hill was defended by a number of her colleagues, including entertainment journalist Kelley L. Carter. “She really doesn’t back down at all….She definitely is a voice for young black women,” Carter said.
A number of celebrities also chimed in, including Chance the Rapper, Common, and J. Cole.
— Lil Chano From 79th (@chancetherapper) October 9, 2017
We will not be intimidated + silenced about injustice in this country. We will win.
— COMMON (@common) October 10, 2017
— J. Cole (@JColeNC) October 9, 2017
While Hill’s tweets caused controversy that led to her suspension, they also helped her become one of the top names to watch in all of sports media.
- Jamie McCarthy/Getty
You can learn more about Hill’s career, personality, and views in this video from The Undefeated.
— The Undefeated (@TheUndefeated) October 10, 2017
Now get to know ESPN’s next big star, Katie Nolan.