Updated: Dec 17, 2019
It’s really incredible to see where our dreams can take us.
In 2014, I was a high school senior preparing to study sports journalism in college, dreaming of one day working for ESPN. I had just finished college applications just a few months prior, applying to all sorts of school along the west coast. Although my dream was to go to USC (much like 90% of kids in Southern California) to study journalism, I didn’t get accepted and my decision came down to two schools: Pepperdine and Oregon.
I took a visit to Oregon during my spring break, but I ultimately chose Pepperdine because I wanted to stay closer to home.
Little did I know that Pepperdine would change my life over the next four years.
During those four years, I learned so much about storytelling and the little details about all kinds of sports. It was also the first place I picked up play-by-play announcing, anchoring, highlight-editing, photography, interviewing, writing and a whole set of skills that have helped guide me in my sports journalism career.
After graduating in 2018, I juggled multiple jobs with different sports companies such as Overtime, Spectrum Sports, Spark Sports, and BallerTV before going full-time as a freelance photographer and videographer in 2019. Sure, it was a lot to handle, but I learned to appreciate all the sports I covered, storytelling, and the relationships I got to share with others. To be able to give back to the community through stories is so powerful and I think it goes very far. People are always watching, especially in today’s social media age, but having other people listening to the stories being shared all around the world is what continues to fuel my love for the job that I do.
I’ve always loved sports. Growing up, I watched live games and SportsCenter on the television and read about the stories the next day in the newspaper. These were just a part of my daily routine.
I remember watching Lakers games on the television with my family in the living room; it served as our family time after a long day of school or work. My dad would talk about how he got into basketball because of Michael Jordan (he lived in Illinois during the 1980’s) and always talked about how he is the greatest player to ever play the sport. To this day, I still agree with him on that: MJ is the GOAT (but Pau Gasol will always be my favorite player of all-time).
When I was in high school, I would jump on the internet, read NBA articles on Bleacher Report and tune in to the “Mason and Ireland Show” on ESPN LA radio. Yup, that was part of my daily routine after school, on top of watching live games and SportsCenter that night.
One day, my mom questioned why I always had something sports-related running in the house.
“Is there a time you DON’T have something sports-related running?”
I didn’t know how to answer it. I just loved sports so much. I loved basketball. I loved the Lakers and Dodgers.
However, one day in particular made me realize that being a sports journalist was the job I wanted to pursue.
Back in 2011, the Lakers were atop the Western Conference and were set to face then-league worst Cleveland Cavaliers. I tuned into the Mason and Ireland show for the pre-game show that day and John Ireland bet that if the Cavaliers beat the Lakers, he would walk back to LA from Cleveland, a 2,344 mile journey. The Lakers ended up losing by five points that night, 104-99.
Instead of making the walk home, he decided to donate $2,344 for every mile to Autism Speaks, a charity that sponsors autism research and promotes awareness. Ireland also attended the Walk Now for Autism Speaks later that year. Beyond supporting the organization financially, Ireland promoted awareness for autism through his platform as a radio host.
Although his wager was initially made as a joke, he inspired me to pursue a career in media so I could help spread awareness for causes like autism and share stories of others. His actions inspired me deeply because my older brother Mason has autism. Listening to someone that I looked up to speak out in support of something my family endured encouraged me to follow his footsteps of using a platform to talk about issues surrounding our society.
Fast forward to 2019, that dream has finally come true.
I’m excited to announce that I will be joining the ESPN family as a Digital Video/Social Associate Producer out in Bristol, CT.
It’s been a long journey, and I am extremely thankful for the people that have guided me along it and trusted me to share their stories. Growing up, I was told things like “Asians don’t work in sports media” or questioned on why I didn’t pursue a career being a doctor or engineer. But here we are. I was not supposed to be here. I think that is why I am so thankful for this opportunity so much.
I never would’ve imagined myself leaving Southern California after high school. I was always scared of the cold, which was why the east coast was off my list when it came down to applying for college (a pretty dumb reason, right?). But thinking more of it, my biggest reason was I was comfortable in LA; it had always been home for me.
Another reason for me to stay close to home for college and after graduation was my family. Being there for my parents and my brother Mason were the main reason I wanted to stay close to home. Mason is my best friend and I am going to miss him dearly.
I am also going to miss the friends I’ve met over these last few years, in high school, in college, and all around the basketball circle. You guys continue to inspire me and I’ll do my best to represent Los Angeles on the other side of the country (cause West Coast is the best coast right?). And I know everyone back home will continue to hold it down for the best city in the world. But just know I am only one text away!
I believe success comes down to one thing. I know it is cliche, but there is a saying “enjoy what you do, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Working for ESPN was my dream, and I am excited for the opportunity. But I hope to continue to share stories, cause that is my ultimate dream.