When I first started covering sports for The St. Louis American in 1994, I knew I was trying to fill some very big shoes.
Mike Claiborne and Kevin Boone were mainstays in the sports department for many years. Also, of course, you had Morris Henderson and Richard “Onion” Horton; a pair of iconic figures in our community who kept it real in The American each and every week.
These men have been friends, confidants and mentors throughout my career in sports journalism. Although I never had the opportunity to meet Mr. Henderson before he passed away, I feel as if I knew him well through his writing in The American during my high school years.
As The American celebrates its 90th anniversary, it has been an honor and a privilege to be the sports editor 24 of those 90 years.
I have been an avid reader of The St. Louis American since moving to the St. Louis area in the early 1980’s. When I joined the staff, I made it my mission to continue the tradition of showcasing our young African-American superstars in the community.
The names of the great athletes that I have had the privilege of covering throughout the years is beyond endless.
During the 1990’s, there were great local athletes such as Larry Hughes, LaShonda Albert, Reggie Germany, Chris Carrawell, Niele Ivey, Lavar Miller, Isaac Byrd, Darius Miles, Tara “Peaches” Harris, and Kim Gardner
As we moved into the 21st century, a new batch of stars entered the arena, such as Bradley Beal, Napheesa Collier, Ezekiel Elliott, Dawn Harper, Jimmy McKinney, Alishea Ursery and Jayson Tatum.
I can go on and on.
Those are just a few of the great performers that brought the St. Louis area into the national spotlight while in high school and well beyond into the collegiate and professional ranks.
As important and noticeable as those great names are in St. Louis, there is another group of youngsters that have meant a lot to me. Those names include Cedric Williams, Ashley Williams, Jamila Wilson, James Perry and Sonya Blankenship.
Those young people took an interest in sports writing and The American was able to help them live that experience by covering a St. Louis Rams game during their Super Bowl seasons. Cedric went on to cover sports for The American for many years. He was the one who created the St. Louis “All” American Prep Football All-Star Teams.
For me, not only was it important to showcase our great athletes on the athletic field. It was just as crucial to help bring along the next generation of young people who will eventually follow me like I followed Morris Henderson and Onion Horton.
I have been able to travel all over the country and cover some of the most prestigious events in Sports over the past three decades. However, the highlight of my career has been the 24 years that I have been able to call The St. Louis American my home.
It has been the best.