Skip Bayless Credit: The Skip Bayless Show on YouTube

Last week on Undisputed, Colorado football coach Deion Sanders made a point to shout out longtime sports talk show host Skip Bayless for the opportunities he has given Black former athletes in sports media. Now Bayless has opened up about why Sanders’ words meant so much and why it mattered to him to give those opportunities at ESPN and Fox Sports.

“Watching last Friday when Deion said what he said to me in Boulder, Colorado, somehow that moment to me just felt so meant to be,” Bayless said Thursday on The Skip Bayless Show. “Somehow to me, that moment felt like it had been in the making since I was three or four years old.”

Bayless previously discussed growing up in Oklahoma during the Civil Rights era. But in his monologue on the podcast, Bayless elaborated on his relationship with a Black woman who helped raise him and how it affected his worldview growing up:

“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.”

Dating back to his ESPN days, Bayless has invited everyone from Keyshawn Johnson to Michael Irvin to Jalen Rose to, of course, Shannon Sharpe on his shows. He often gave current athletes like his now-co-host Richard Sherman opportunities via interview.

While Bayless comes across as difficult and occasionally disrespectful to his cohosts, the decision to bring Black former athletes onto television is surely a part of his legacy as well.

“What Deion thanked me for came from Katie Bell Henderson,” Bayless said in closing.

In an age where sports media members are more comfortable bringing social issues into sports debates, it’s rare we actually get personalities going on the record explaining where their beliefs come from.

It might not change how the average viewer feels about Bayless. But it’s admirable that he would reach so deep to describe how he formed his views.

[The Skip Bayless Show on YouTube]

About Brendon Kleen

Brendon is a Media Commentary staff writer at Awful Announcing. He has also covered basketball and sports business at Front Office Sports, SB Nation, Uproxx and more.