Famous Latter-day Saints

How a BYU Professor Became ESPN's Top NBA Draft Analyst


In case you haven't heard yet, LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA Finals last week. It was a pretty big deal. The season's over now, and tomorrow, all 30 NBA teams will draft the most impressive collegiate and foreign players in the world. Until then, the biggest name in basketball will be Chad Ford.

You might not expect a BYU-Hawaii conflict resolution professor to capture the interest of the sports world, but a recent Deseret News article highlights exactly how that happened. Ford, a Latter-day Saint, spent the 1990s working on two projects: a slew of degrees (bachelor's, master's, and law) and a career in sports journalism. 

He started a website called SportsTalk.com, which grew to gargantuan proportions and was subsequently bought by ESPN. Ford joined the team at ESPN but quickly discovered the lifestyle of a 24/7 sports reporter was too much for him and his family. In fact, he couldn't even sit through a church meeting without being on his Blackberry.

So in 2005, Ford took a teaching job at BYU-Hawaii, and he hasn't looked back. He works at his alma mater nine months out of the year—but whenever the NBA draft comes around, he comes back to ESPN as the "draft expert."

Despite the criticism that comes from being such a public figure, Ford relishes his role at ESPN. However, he's far more invested in his role as a husband, father, and proponent of world peace.

"To me, the gospel is about peace, loving each other. It’s about Jesus’ new commandment to ‘love one another as I have loved you,’” Ford said. “We live in a world where that is really hard for people. Peace building is at the heart of the gospel, learning how to overcome our differences and see each other the way God sees us.”

Yes, Ford has the attention of the sports world right now. But tomorrow night, the players will be drafted and he'll go back to his favorite job. “I get to go to work every day and be inspired by these young people who seriously come to this place and want to go back and make a difference in the world,” he said. “To be able to work with them, help get them launched on their way, there is really no better gig in the world. It’s hard to beat that—go to work and be inspired every day.”

For more about his story, visit DeseretNews.com.

Photo from YouTube.
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