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Journalism Showcase: ‘It was important for me to point out what he means to the community and what the community means to him.’

ESPN’s Clinton Yates discusses his E60/The Undefeated profile of rapper 2Chainz, who as a G League team owner is making his basketball dreams come true

Twenty-five years ago, Tauheed Epps left College Park, Ga., to play basketball at Alabama State. He would go on to fame and fortune – just not in basketball. Now known the world over as 2Chainz, he’s become a Grammy-winning star in the world of rap. He also recently became part-owner of the Atlanta Hawks’ G-League affiliate, the SkyHawks.

ESPN’s Clinton Yates visits with 2Chainz at his old high school and talks about how his basketball dreams finally came true in “2Chainz Full Circle,” an E60/The Undefeated feature now streaming on ESPN+ and airing on a future episode of E60. A version also appears with a written piece by Yates on Yates, a columnist for The Undefeated and an ESPN commentator and host, discussed the process with Front Row:

How did you get involved in this project?
E60 came to me with it, and being a big 2Chainz fan for a long time, I said yes. Having known his history personally, I said, “Why don’t we do this at his actual high school?” It turned out to be a pretty critical place in regards to the whole story. Ultimately he’s a family man and a community fan outside of being a superstar millionaire rapper, and some people think that those two things are kind of easy to do in conjunction but they’re not – you’ve got to do the work and you’ve got to be in the places and that’s what 2Chainz does.

What do you want viewers to take away from this?
A large part of why I wanted to do it was I knew the story about him getting kicked out of high school and then coming back and becoming a college basketball player. As a Black person – never mind a hip-hop fan – it was important to me to tell that story. I wanted to do it in a way that put it in a little more than just “rappers wanna be ballers, and ballers wanna be rappers,” kind of overarching concept that I think people take a little too seriously.

I also wanted to make sure this didn’t become some sort of poverty porn kind of story. So that was important to me to try to indicate because a lot of us are out here trying to make it. He’s one guy who did, so it’s cool to see him spread love at the end. It was important for me to point out what he means to the community and what the community means to him.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The multiplatform presentation also includes content on ESPN social platforms on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Additionally, 2Chainz partnered with ESPN’s music brand, Hype Hits, to curate a Takeover playlist with the songs that get him the most hyped. The playlist is available on ESPN’s profiles on Spotify, Apple Music, and Pandora.

2Chainz (R) speaks with ESPN reporter Clinton Yates in the gymnasium of his former high school in College Park, Ga.

  • ESPN’s E60 has won a News and Documentary Emmy for “Southmost: Football and Life at the Border.” The project was a special collaboration with Jorge Ramos and Univision and told intimate, emotional, important stories at the intersection of the immigration issue, human rights, and sports. The Emmy was E60’s 20th in the 13 years the program has existed.

  • ESPN writers and commentators are among the nominees for the annual National Sports Media Association (NSMA) Awards, which will be announced in January after NSMA members vote during December. The annual awards ceremony will be held in June.

  • The new edition of The Best American Sports Writing 2020 is now available, and ESPN continued its long history of representation in the book with four stories, the most of any outlet. The annual publication showcases the previous year’s greatest sports journalism, culled from hundreds of national, regional, and specialty print and digital publications. As previously reported, ESPN NBA writer Kevin Arnovitz was included in the book for his “How NBA executive Jeff David stole $13 million from the Sacramento Kings.” Also in the book are Mike Kessler and Mark Fainaru-Wada’s “44 Years, 41 Allegations. Now the Past is Catching Up,” Aishwarya Kumar’s “The Grandmaster Diet” and Elizabeth Merrill’sWhatever Happened to Villanova Basketball Star Shelly Pennefather? “So I Made This Deal With God.”
    In addition, ESPN senior writer Jackie MacMullan was guest editor for the book.
  • -Andy Hall

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