Behind The Scenes

SportsNation, ESPN Radio co-host Wiley loves Father’s Day

Sports fans know Marcellus Wiley from his 10-year career as an NFL defensive end and from his ESPN TV and radio work. The former NFL analyst now co-hosts SportsNation and ESPN LA 710’s Afternoons on ESPNLA with Marcellus & Kevin. The avid music lover, who occasionally spins records as a DJ, is also a proud father of two. He has an 18-year-old daughter who will attend UConn this fall where she will compete in track and field, and a 22-month old “mini me” Marcellus Jr.

The pride that Wiley has for his children is evident on social media where he often posts photos of his kids. In advance of Father’s Day weekend, Wiley spoke with Front Row about them, his Father’s Day plans, and how he learned to be a dad from his own father. He also spoke about his upcoming challenge against colleague Keyshawn Johnson.

40-yard showdown: Wiley vs. Johnson

On Aug. 26, ESPN’s Marcellus Wiley and ESPNLA Radio 710 colleague Keyshawn Johnson will face off against one another in a 40-yard dash competition dubbed the #MarKeyRace. What inspired this?

Wiley: “The idea started because Keyshawn was bragging, like he always does, that he could run a 4.7 in the 40. And his radio show co-hosts (LZ Granderson and Jorge Sedano) were laughing and told him he ‘couldn’t even beat Marcellus and he is in better shape than you even though he is bigger than you.’ I ran track my whole life growing up, but that was a long time and a lot of pounds ago. I don’t take track challenges lightly. I know Keyshawn can run and should be able to defeat me, however, he is so out of shape. Like my coach always said about his D-linemen, because we were big boys, ‘Don’t let the fat fool you. We can move.'”

What are you most proud of as a dad?
My son is 22 months, who knows what he will be and I love him. My daughter has a sweet spirit and wants to do the best for others. I’m most proud of her morals and ethics. She has a really good character base to build on, and that’s kind of how I was raised. My parents didn’t tell me I had to be something. They just wanted me to be a good person, and good things happen to good people. I was cut from that cloth, and I think, so far, both of my kids have that same level of identity.

What does Father’s Day mean to you?
First, it’s a reflection of the great father I have. I’m thankful and still blessed to have my father, Charles Wiley. I can’t remember a major or minor moment that my father wasn’t there to support me. He is a very practical person and always says and does the right things no matter if it’s against you or not. He never once pressured me or pushed me to be a football player or a great student or any of the things I was able to achieve. There are times when I wish he would have – maybe I would have been even bigger. But in all seriousness, he was always there.

I grew up around the statistics [Wiley is from Compton, Calif.] and I know about the broken homes and families, and I never felt any of that because I had my parents. As an adult, I learned to cherish and respect that even more because it was the norm for me even though it wasn’t for my peers.

What are your Father’s Day plans?
My wife just asked me what I want to do. I am the most chill, easygoing person there is so I’ll go in the backyard and swim and barbecue. We will just sit there together laughing, listen to some music and play around . . . Truly that’s heaven for me. There is nothing that brings me the same fulfillment as sitting there listening and hearing my family’s experiences in a relaxed environment. It would be ideal to take 10 steps to the backyard and sit there smothering my kids with love and kisses as I always do.

You might find Marcellus in the pool on Father’s Day.
(Larry Strumwasser/ESPN Images)
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