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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Who is Cari Champion?

Who is Cari Champion? The sports world knows Cari Champion as an American broadcast journalist and television personality.[1] She has worked as an anchor and reporter for the Tennis Channel and is currently the host of ESPN2's First Take.

Early life

Champion was born in June 1975 and raised in Pasadena, California.[2] Champion attended the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where she majored in English and minored in mass communications. She wrote for the Daily Bruin and was inspired to pursue a career in journalism by UCLA alumni, including Matea Gold of the Los Angeles Times, who spoke in her classes.[3] Champion was drawn to journalism with goals of transforming negative stereotypes of African Americans: "I wanted to give people a voice that didn't have a voice. I'm always fighting for the underdog. I don't know where I got it from, but I've been like that all my life. That's why I love journalism."[4] In her junior year, she studied in Washington, D.C. and earned an internship at CNN.[3] Champion graduated from UCLA in 1998,[3] with an English degree.[4]


Champion began her broadcasting career at several television stations.[4] She moved to West Virginia for her first reporting job.[1] She later said of working there: "I was a one-man-band carrying a camera and a tripod and that was God-awful. But I loved it because I wanted to do it. I always wanted to be a reporter."[4] She was a reporter at the Orange County Newschannel in Santa Ana, California before joining WPTV-TV in West Palm Beach, Florida in the same capacity in 2002.[5]
In November 2007, while working as an anchor for WGCL-TV in Atlanta, Champion was fired for allegedly uttering a profanity over the air. She appealed the firing and said in an interview for the Maynard Institute that the floor director had not cued her and her co-anchor following a commercial break, and that the microphone picked up a conversation they were having about an unhandy mechanical screenwriter: "I called the screenwriter a 'mothersucka' not the f-bomb."[6] She was rehired in January 2008, but left shortly after in March for a broadcasting job outside of Atlanta.[7]

After moving to Florida, Champion covered news such as human interest stories and devastating hurricanes in the state.[1] While working as a reporter there, she developed an affinity for tennis after covering players such as Venus and Serena Williams: "They made me love the sport even more. They opened the door to tennis for so many different people."[4] She subsequently auditioned for the Tennis Channel's burgeoning news department and was one of three women selected from a pool of more than fifty candidates.[4] She joined the network in 2009.[8] Champion worked as a courtside reporter,[1] and anchored the channel's Court Report news segment.[4] She also worked as an entertainment reporter for the Starz network and shows such as The Insider and Hollywood 411.[3]
First Take crew

Heidi Watney
Jemele Hill
On October 1, 2012, Champion joined ESPN as the new host of ESPN2's live debate show First Take.[1] She was hired over Heidi Watney and Jemele Hill for the job.[9]


Personal life

Champion grew up as an avid basketball fan. She is a fan of the Los Angeles Lakers and the UCLA Bruins.[4] According to her, she is 6 feet 1 inch tall "with heels".[2] Before working on the show, Champion was an avid watcher of First Take: "I love the barbershop debates that make First Take feel different than other programs".[1] She currently lives in Connecticut.[10]

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