In This Issue: Skip Bayless, The Mad Monk of ESPN

Mj 618_348_in this issue skip bayless the mad monk of espn
Photograph by Andrew Hetherington

Coming of age in Oklahoma, Skip Bayless says he endured a dysfunctional family. “Dad was drunker than usual and abusing me in front of the staff,” says the 60-year-old sportscaster, recounting an experience at the family restaurant. But as he explains to Paul Solotaroff, he put the past behind him. “I left that chaos,” he says, “Dad running off with Mom’s friend, Mom spiraling into alcohol hell – and was gone and done. My sister and brother haven’t forgiven me that to this day.” Some highlights from the magazine story:

• As a preschooler, Bayless says his father treated him like a party trick, pouring alcohol down his throat for the amusement of his Saturday-night guests. His escape came at age 18, when he won the Grantland Rice scholarship, awarded annually to the best high school sportswriter in the country. It was revenge and deliverance in a single serving.

• Despite his efforts to leave all the drama behind him, Bayless’ run as a sports reporter hasn’t been without conflict. He tells the story of a run-in with former Dallas Cowboy lineman Mark Tuinei, who attacked Bayless on the team plane. “It was a near-death experience. He was mad enough to kill me,” Bayless says, adding “and I was fool enough to stand my ground.”

• Bayless’ infamous takedowns may resonate deeply with fans, but his near-constant provocation has won him many enemies, including Charles Barkley (who “hates him more than any person” alive) and Terrell Suggs, who appeared on Bayless’ show and called him a douchebag. Says ‘First Take’ co-star Stephen A. Smith: “[Athletes] don’t like him, and I’m being kind when I say that. I won’t repeat the things they call him in private.”

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