RESIDENCE: BETHESDA, Md.
James Brown has become a fixture on NFL broadcasts over the past two decades. Nicknamed “J.B.,” Brown has served as the studio host for both Fox and CBS. He spent 11 seasons hosting the NFL on Fox pregame show and currently hosts The NFL Today on CBS.
But before he became synonymous with NFL broadcasts, Brown was a basketball star in the Washington, D.C., area. He nearly carved out an NBA career before getting into broadcasting. But the backbone of his success, Brown says, is strong family ties and a commitment to education, something instilled in him by his parents.
I was blessed to grow up in a solid middle class family. Two-parent household. My mom and dad were high school graduates, but I'm fond of saying they had PhD's in drive and determination and perseverance to ensure that their kids, all five of us, get a better opportunity and crack at life than they did, with educational excellence being the foundation stone.
My mom was a tremendously talented and strong woman. All she wanted to do was be an excellent homemaker.
Our household was not a democracy. It was a dictatorship.
I was the oldest of five. My job was using that old-fashioned, hard Johnson's Bowling Alley Wax to wax our floors. My other two strengths were in ironing and washing the dishes.
My father worked two jobs and a third during the holidays. He was a prison guard as his main job at a prison outside of Washington, D.C. He also drove a taxi cab. And during the holidays, he worked for a rental car company.
I was so thrilled to be able to go to an excellent high school in DeMatha Catholic High. But my mom said she couldn't care less whether they were a powerhouse athletic program. I had to show the ability to do the work in order to play in the games and to become a high school All-American and be recruited by every major college in the country.
When it became time to select a college, it almost seemed like a natural extension and a no-brainer, if I could get in, to go to Harvard. Thank God it worked out well.
Morgan Wooten played a big role in my life. Because he walked the talk as the venerable coach from DeMatha. He got me convinced about the work ethic necessary, character, integrity, things that he built on top of the foundation that my mom set.
I absolutely wanted to play in the NBA when I was growing up. I thought that was going to materialize with the Atlanta Hawks. Did not happen.
When I got cut by the Atlanta Hawks, I had no one to blame but myself. If I had paid attention to the work ethic that got me there, I would have ratcheted it up.
Being cut by the Atlanta Hawks was a pivotal moment for me because it taught me that one can't rest on their laurels.
I thought I might go to law school. But I got sidetracked with this television thing with an opportunity to do some work with the then-Washington Bullets. And I've been at it ever since.
While I got my foot in the door with basketball, I wanted to broaden my horizons and show that I could do more than just basketball.
I'm thrilled to have been doing this for as long as I have, which is an eternity in television, where things change so fast.
I don't want to think that I have arrived. It is still a wonderful journey that I'm still on.