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Do you know this… Bomani?

6/21/2013, 8:57 a.m.
Just as there are once-in-a-generation athletes, 32-year-old ESPN personality Bomani Jones is redefining what it means to analyze sports.
Bomani Jones, Gonzalo "Papi" Le Batard, Dan Le Batard on the set of ESPN2's "Highly Questionable with Dan Le Batard and Bomani Jones," which airs daily at 3:30 p.m. ET.

And Jones fed off the entrepreneurial energy of diversely talented people who had or were in the process of attending CAU at that time, such as rapper Mase, DJ Don Cannon, singer Bobby Valentino, music producer and manager Chaka Zulu, and other notables.

Despite this experience, pursuing a sports journalism career was still fluid and undefined to Jones.

“It was much more of a hustle than a plan,” Jones explained.

But there is a reason why sports was not always at the career forefront for Jones, who holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from CAU, and dual masters in economics from Claremont Graduate University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Growing up in a household with professors as parents, an award-winning author as a sister (Tayari) and a marketing brother, Jones’ childhood was spent engaging with the world differently than many of his peers.

“The time most people spend hanging out with their brothers and sisters, I spent hanging out with my parents and their PhD friends,” Jones said.

This highly intellectual and diverse environment helped in forging his analytical processes, something his father could see in Jones at a very young age.

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Bomani Jones, as a child, sits on his father's lap.

“We spent a year in Nigeria, and half the people we knew had Volkswagen Beetles,” Mack Jones, political scientist, recalled about his son.

“Most of them were the same color. Unbeknownst to his mom or me, Bo could recognize everybody’s vehicle, because he had memorized [his or her] license tag numbers. And he couldn’t have been more than 3 years old.”

Now, Jones stores stats, plays, events, and stories like a human computer. And he connects non-related sports issues to his arena without reaching or being off base.

Simply, he is bringing a polished and unfiltered academic perspective to a realm dominated by loud opinions.

“[Jones is] incredibly intellectually deep for a sports commentator,” said William A. “Sandy” Darity, Jr., a distinguished professor at Duke University and the Jones’ family friend. “He’s interested in social commentary in a wider sense, where sports are the vehicle for talking about what is happening in society.”

Sports has always transcended its boundaries, but it is rare to come across a sports analyst that can put those moments in their proper contexts, from Lolo Jones’ twitter woes to LeBron James’ hairline, Jones engages people like none other, on various platforms.

“There are people very eager to hear what he says on a daily basis,” Darity said. “And I suspect that ESPN is purchasing not only that following, but the expectation that if he has a platform through their network that he’ll build an even larger following.”

In an audience-driven industry, such a unique commentator will attract people. And that’s exactly what Dan Le Batard had in mind when he agreed with HQ’s producer Erik Rydholm, that Jones should become a permanent co-host.

“He is the birth child of the new school infiltrating the old school,” Le Batard said. “It’s going to be real interesting to have someone who is legitimately anti-establishment inside ‘the establishment’ [ESPN]. That’s going to be fun to watch.”

And you can see it all unfold daily on “Highly Questionable with Dan Le Batard and Bomani Jones” on ESPN2 at 3:30 p.m. ET.

Jones also appears frequently on “Around the Horn” on ESPN at 5 p.m. ET, as well as Dan Le Batard’s radio program on The Ticket in Miami. And he has his own self-titled site, featuring writings, podcasts, and merchandise.

“Just because a lot of people see you doesn’t mean you’ve reached them,” Jones said about his new platform with ESPN.

You can expect Bomani Jones to go hard or go home; at least that’s what Le Batard expects.

“Our show has done precious little in getting in trouble, thus far,” Le Batard said. “My guess is we’re about to start getting in trouble.”

For more Bomani Jones, check out:

http://www.bomanijones.com, facebook, twitter