Skip Bayless discussing his difficult relationship with his mother on "The Skip Bayless Show." Skip Bayless discussing his difficult relationship with his mother on his podcast. (The Skip Bayless Show on X/Twitter.)

Fox Sports host Skip Bayless is often known for over-the-top emotional rants about sports, to the point where some have questioned how sincerely he believes the takes he’s sharing. But Bayless recently got extremely sincere and emotional on a different subject; the difficult relationship he had with his mother.

On his The Skip Bayless Show podcast, Bayless spoke about how his wife Ernestine misses her mother around Mother’s Day, and how he does not feel the same way about his mother. He said he appreciates who she was, and credits her for some of his approach to his career and the things that have helped him get to this point, but said she didn’t love or show affection to her children. But, he goes from saying he doesn’t miss her to eventually saying at the end of the video “I do miss her some.”

“I was never, ever close to my mother, because she really wasn’t capable of being close to anyone. Even to her three children, especially to her three children. So last Saturday, when Ernestine asked me that question [if he missed her], I thought for a moment and I answered painfully, honestly, ‘No, I don’t miss my mother.’

“I mean, how do you miss someone who never loved you, never told you or showed you one time as you were growing up, that she cared at all about you? But now, please understand, I dearly loved who my mother was. I was in awe of my mother. My mother was something. The biggest personality I have ever known was my mother’s. Nobody I’ve ever known could take over a room like my mother could.

“I actually have a whole lot of my mother in me. I have been blessed to be very successful and to have made a lot of money on TV and radio because I am my mother’s son. When I unleash on camera, that is all Levita Katherine Potter, her maiden name.

“I’ve always given my mother credit for doing two things for me. She made me go to church with her every Sunday, only to impress her mother, who was also going to said church. But church did save me; I could have gone south so quickly because I had no rules. Church kept me on my path to where I am today. Thank you for that, Mom.

“And number two, she forced me to take public speaking lessons that I despised, starting in maybe second grade until fifth grade. Why? Because her mother had made her take the same lessons. How blessed was I? My mom passed away at 91 back in 2017. The more I think about it, my mom was something. Yeah, you know, I do miss her some.”

As per an obituary in The Oklahoman, it was actually March 2018 when Bayless’ mother (then Levita Anderson) passed away. She opened famed Oklahoma City barbecue restaurant The Hickory House with her first husband John Bayless in 1949, and ran it on her own for 12 of its 37 years. But this isn’t the first time her children have spoken about her being a challenging mother, and about the difficulties they faced in their childhood.

In 2018, in a joint profile at The Post Game, Skip and his younger brother, prominent chef Rick Bayless, spoke about their parents’ alcoholism, and how their father would pour liquor down toddler Skip’s throat to entertain guests. That profile also saw Rick talk about how he took to working at their parents’ restaurant business much more than Skip did, and saw Skip (who legally changed his name from John) discuss how his father once burned him by throwing rib cookers at him. (Their third sibling, LuAnn Tucker, declined an interview request for that piece; she passed away from cancer in 2020.)

Skip Bayless also spoke a lot about the challenges of his upbringing, and about the lack of attention he received from his mother, on his podcast last year. There, he discussed how he credits his grandmother’s housekeeper with a key role in raising him:

“I did grow up in Oklahoma City. I was the oldest of three children in a broken home wrecked by alcohol from the start. Both parents alcoholics. Father functional drunk, mother get drunk, drunk.

“Because of the circumstances, I often got left at my grandmother’s. My grandmother didn’t have a whole lot of money. She traveled for her work. So she did have, I guess you would call it a housekeeper, who was actually more of a house runner. Her name was Katie Bell Henderson. She ran that household with an iron first.

“She was a Black woman from the south side of Chicago with a background that went all the way back to Alabama in her extended family tree. She was tough. As sweet as she was tough, but she was tough.

“But please understand from my perspective as I got to know Katie Bell at age 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. I spent a lot of time with Katie Bell. Maybe I didn’t know any better, but I didn’t ever, ever think of Katie Bell in that old South plantation mentality way of quote-unquote servant.

“Katie Bell was nothing like that. She was treated nothing like that by the extended family that came and went through my grandmother’s house. Katie Bell was in charge, and she was treated as such. Katie Bell was wiser than any human I have ever known. Katie Bell Henderson was far, far more of a mother to me than my mother ever was.

“I looked up to that woman more than I have anyone in my life. Ever, ever, ever. She saved me from going bad. I had every opportunity with no rules in my house to go wrong, to go South, to go bad. Katie Bell Henderson taught me right from wrong. She taught me about the evils of alcohol. She saved me. She built a foundation in my life that to this moment benefits me.”

It is remarkable that the Bayless children all went on to find significant success (Tucker was a famed special education teacher) in different arenas despite such a difficult family life growing up. And it’s understandable why that’s left Skip with some less-than-positive emotions about and memories of his mother. It’s interesting to hear him work through that publicly and show some vulnerability we don’t often see him express on camera.

[The Skip Bayless Show on X/Twitter]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.