By Demetrius Dillard
Special to the AFRO
A local sports broadcaster’s dream is coming true.
Max McGee, a sports anchor and reporter with Baltimore’s WJZ, will soon be leaving town to work for the nation’s premier sports network.
He will be joining ESPN as one of its newest sports anchors for the network’s signature news and information program, SportsCenter. His new duties began Jan. 31.
“Thank you: I’ve signed with @espn as their newest @SportsCenter Anchor. All the credit goes to my family for believing. ago, I was working at Famous Dave’s or Capital Grille. Without the people in this picture, my dreams don’t come true,” McGee tweeted on Jan. 12 along with a photo of himself and his family with SportsCenter shirts.
McGee enters his new role after being at WJZ since January 2019 where he reported extensively on the Ravens and the Orioles along with an array of other noteworthy sporting events. He is elated to work at the network he and so many other sports enthusiasts grew up watching as a child.
“It’s been incredible. It’s been quite the ride the last few years, I’ve been dreaming about this since I was a kid,” McGee told the AFRO. “For everything to come true is just a testament to the work that my parents have done and the village of people around me. I couldn’t take the sole credit for it.”
McGee recalls being 7-years-old, getting up every morning to catch 30 minutes or so of SportsCenter before heading to school. His passion for sports began on the playgrounds and parks in South New Jersey where he developed a love for baseball.
Growing up in the Philadelphia region, which hails as one of the top sports markets in the country – McGee admired the likes of Sixers legend Allen Iverson and former Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb. Watching ESPN and being involved in sports in general were a considerable part of McGee’s childhood, he said.
“It was a huge part of my childhood because without ESPN I wouldn’t be able to see Michael Jordan everyday,” said McGee, a lifelong sports enthusiast. “I needed to get my national sports fix by following MJ and Ken Griffey Jr. and Sammy Sosa and all the big-time players, so that love for sports started young and that’s what kind of blossomed into the career that I have today”
The Cherry Hill, N.J., native has had his share of ups and downs, tribulations and triumphs. He went from nearly flunking out of school in community college with a 1.4 GPA to graduating from Temple University with a journalism degree.
“My mom came downstairs while I was watching TV one night and she said, ‘Max, you failed every single class’ with tears in her eyes. I’d never seen her cry before,” McGee said.
“She walked right back upstairs without saying a word, and that was the lowest moment of my life. I said, ‘I gotta turn this around. I don’t know how I’m going to do it, but I gotta do it.’”
After taking a one-year hiatus from school, McGee re-enrolled on a part-time basis to get his grades back up while working at Famous Dave’s. Soon thereafter, he found out he was accepted to Philadelphia’s Temple University.
“I remember running up my driveway with that acceptance package and immediately dropped the deposit on Temple, and it was history from there. I had to fight through a lot of adversity… It was a long fight, and it was one I’m glad I won.”
In only 14 months after graduating college and applying for some 250 jobs McGee landed his first television job as a reporter and producer at KPLC-TV in Lake Charles, La., where he shared an AP Award for best sportscast. After leaving Louisiana, McGee went on to work for WMBF-TV, the NBC affiliate in Myrtle Beach, S.C. From there, he headed north to Baltimore for a job at WJZ.
Reporting in Baltimore prepared McGee for his new capacity at ESPN. It was here where he acquired experience covering professional sports teams on a consistent basis.
“I knew for me, professionally, I needed to step up my game because this is an entire business – that is professional sports,” he said.
“For me, it just solidified my passion and made my choice the right one. I proved myself right by getting into the right business because when it was game day, my energy was around and I lit up once got the opportunity to go to an Orioles game on opening day or the Ravens playoff game against Tennessee, even though they lost. Those were some of the highlights of my career in Baltimore.”
As an accomplished Black media practitioner, McGee feels his experience can inspire others who may or may not follow his career path.
“You just can’t give up. I think that’s the inspiration that I can definitely provide to not just Black people, but anyone,” McGee said.
“But in particular for Black people, I think it’s important for me to reach back and bring the next person up because someone always did it for me, and someone did it for that person as well. So as long we keep the chain going and we keep producing this positive energy, the sky’s the limit. I truly believe that if I can do it, anybody can.”
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