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ESPN Names New Site on Sports, Race and Culture: The Undefeated


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Key Profiles on Charles Barkley and John Wall Preview New Site Ahead of 2015 NBA All-Star Weekend in New York will be the name of ESPN’s new site focused on sports, race and culture. Set to launch later this year, the site will provide in-depth commentary, long-form storytelling and insight on race and urban culture through the prism of sports. National sports columnist Jason Whitlock will headline and serve as editor-in-chief.

The name, The Undefeated, is inspired by a passage from American poet, author and civil rights leader Maya Angelou: “You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”

“Maya’s quote perfectly captures the African-American journey and the spirit athletes and all Americans try to embrace,” said Whitlock. “It’s wonderful to see our collective vision coming together.”

Under Whitlock’s leadership,’s senior editorial team consists of award-winning sports editor Leon Carter, who was named vice president and editorial director last month, and former Ebony magazine editor-in-chief Amy DuBois Barnett, who joined in August 2014 as executive editor.

The site is part of ESPN’s Exit 31, the umbrella content unit responsible for ESPN Films, Grantland and FiveThirtyEight, and is being overseen by Marie Donoghue, ESPN Executive Vice President for Global Strategy and Original Content. editorial team (to-date):

  • Jerry Bembry (senior writer) – former NBA reporter for The Baltimore Sun and ESPN The Magazine NBA editor.
  • Danielle Cadet (senior editor) – former editor at “The Huffington Post Black Voices” who led the outlet’s coverage of the Trayvon Martin murder trial and the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.
  • Ryan Cortes (writer) – contributor to several media outlets including “Broward New Times” in South Florida, Lifestyle Magazine group, Life Publications and others.
  • Brando Simeo Starkey (associate editor) – legal scholar and writer who’s been published by a number of respected law journals, and author of books on racial equality.
  • Justin Tinsley (writer) – former urban culture and music writer whose work has been featured in Rolling Stone,, among other outlets.
  • Jesse Washington (senior writer) – former Associated Press race and culture writer, editor in chief of Blaze magazine, and managing editor of Vibe
  • Mike Wise (columnist and feature writer) – former national sports columnist and feature writer for The Washington Post. Profiles Charles Barkley:

Today, published an in-depth profile of NBA Hall of Famer and Turner Sports analyst Charles Barkley. Commissioned by the, senior writer Jesse Washington, with additional reporting by Ryan Cortes, wrote an expansive, 9,000-word piece titled, “Up from Leeds: The People, the Place and the Privilege that Made Charles Barkley a Role Model.” The feature is a foretaste of the opinion-forming storytelling that will be a calling card for the new site. Highlights:

  • Who is Charles Barkley?
  • How did this Hall of Fame basketball player, with a personality more Allen Iverson than Bill Russell, emerge as a respected commentator on important social issues?
  • Is Barkley the modern day Muhammad Ali, a voice for the ages on race. Or Jack Johnson, a provocateur with no real agenda?

Additionally, the story explores whether the self-responsibility doctrine espoused by Barkley is the by-product of the values he acquired growing up in Leeds, Ala., or the privilege he has earned with “his ability to dazzle on and off the court.”

Mike Wise Examines the Ascension of Washington Wizards Star Guard John Wall:

In a separate long-form story published this week on, Mike Wise examines the maturation of Washington Wizards’ John Wall and the path the NBA All-Star guard took from an insolent youngster growing up in the Raleigh, N.C. area, to becoming a beloved leader for a resurgent team in a city passionately steeped, by equal measure, in sports and politics. Read “Little John Wall’s unvarnished climb.”

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