Jemele Hill Sounds Off on Trump Tweets, Connection Between Sports and Politics

Jemele Hill - Getty - H 2017
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ESPN alum and current writer for The Atlantic Jemele Hill sounded off on all things sports and politics on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Thursday.

Colbert praised her for her tweet last year that Donald Trump is “a white supremacist who surrounds himself with other white supremacists,” which in part led to her suspension at the sports network. "Show me the lie," she quipped in return.

Trump would later tweet back at her, "With Jemele Hill at the mike, it is no wonder ESPN ratings have tanked, in fact, tanked so badly it is the talk of the industry."

"Number one, I was super impressed he spelled my name right," she said when asked what her reaction to Trump's tweet was. "Grammar is not really his thing." But she added that as a journalist “you live for that moment,” and she was ultimately amused and took it as a compliment.

As for whether Trump's presidency has meant politics and sports are more connected than ever, Hill said this is nothing new. "They've always been connected … they’ve always touched and mixed together,” she said, citing political sports stars Muhammad Ali and Jackie Robinson as examples.

“In my experience, people who object to that intersection [of sports and politics] don’t like the opinion or viewpoint being expressed,” she added.

But she explained that she believes “some of this is simply right or wrong.”

"To me politics is when you have a pro argument and a con argument. Is anyone out there pro racism? Or pro police brutality? What are we arguing about? It’s just that people have gotten so polarized about issues that, frankly, we should all be on board with,” she explained, to which the audience gave a loud round of applause.

Of her new gig as narrator of L.A. Lakers star LeBron James' upcoming basketball doc Shut Up & Dribble, Hill talked about the inspiration for the film's name, which comes from an incident in which James was told to "shut up and dribble" after expressing anti-Trump sentiments from Fox News personality Laura Ingraham. Hill said she thanks Ingraham for her comments because it led to her getting "another [pay]check." 

Hill also praised James as one of this generation's great sports and political figures: "He's really set a tone. Right now the two most important athletes of this generation are LeBron James and Colin Kaepernick." Kaepernick, a former NFL player, gained national attention when he stirred controversy by choosing to kneel on one knee rather than stand during the national anthem before games in order to protest racial injustice.

Of Kaepernick, Hill predicted, "He'll be remembered as a hero” but he won't play again "because of his stance on racial justice and the fact it makes a lot of the ownership of the NFL uncomfortable."