Sports have always been a huge part of Kristen Ledlow’s life — from playing collegiate volleyball and basketball at Southeastern University to reporting on the sidelines for TV and radio shows to now co-hosting NBA TV’s “NBA Inside Stuff” with Grant Hill. And though you may think this sports broadcaster is a die-hard jock, she’s also a former beauty queen (earning a top five finish at Miss Florida USA a few years ago) who can let her girly side shine through. As NBA All-Star Weekend 2016 came to a close last night, find out why it was a slam dunk to add Kristen Ledlow to our FACES roster (we promise that’s the end of our sports-related hyperbole).
You are co-host of NBA TV’s “NBA Inside Stuff.” Had you always been interested in sports? Do you prefer playing basketball or commentating on the sport?
From the time I started playing at 8 years old, I loved nothing more than the game of basketball. In high school, I also played volleyball and ran track. I went on to play basketball and volleyball at Southeastern University, and while I cherish my time playing the game, I feel overwhelmingly blessed to get to cover it on a national stage now.
What are the challenges you’ve faced working in a field largely dominated by men, specifically professional athletes? Which current or former female sports reporters/hosts do you look up to and why?
As in any industry, mine holds its own unique set of challenges. Fortunately, there’s never been a better time to be a woman in sports! For the first time ever, women are coaching in the NBA and NFL, calling MLB playoff games and hosting prime-time broadcasts on major sports networks. It’s impossible to name all of the countless women who have blazed the trail before me, but Doris Burke, Sage Steele, Rachel Nichols and Michelle Beadle have each played major roles in my development, both as a broadcaster and as a woman.
You have an extensive background covering sports on the collegiate and professional levels for print, radio and broadcast. How did you get into the field? What would you tell other women looking to break into this male-dominated profession?
I interned in both Orlando and Los Angeles while I was still in college, and landed my first job in local news in Tallahassee. While in my hometown, I often worked seven days a week chasing opportunities specific to sports broadcasting. Next, I moved to Atlanta to cover SEC and ACC recruiting at FOX Sports NEXT. The following year, I moved on to CBS Sports Radio and ultimately, NBA TV. My advice? Don’t take “no” for an answer! The industry is jam-packed with women who continued standing as others eventually sat down.
This might be a professional no-no, but who are your favorite sports teams and/or athletes? (And you have to choose someone besides your “Inside Stuff” co-host Grant Hill.)
My favorite NBA team is the Orlando Magic. I have a cat named after the franchise. Of course, Grant Hill played in Orlando when I was a little girl living in central Florida. In line with my father’s allegiance, I also grew up cheering on the Boston Celtics. I modeled my own game (and attitude) after Paul Pierce.
You are a former beauty queen. What beauty secrets can you share with our readers? Where do you go in Atlanta to get primped and pampered?
My number one beauty secret? WATER! Being on the road as often as I am, drinking water helps maintain my figure and a glowing complexion. My makeup artist Rachael Hoch has told me many beauty secrets, but none more important than that! While primping in Atlanta, I love Studio Oliver, Union 16. Salon and Jamison Shaw. Oh, and the biweekly visit to Nikole at Van Michael Salon — she’s an eyebrow connoisseur.
What does a typical week look like for you?
A typical week?! I don’t remember the last time I had one of those! On any given day, I’m in our NBA TV studios hosting “Inside Stuff” or “GameTime,” or on the road covering the NBA sidelines on NBA TV or TNT. It’s a hectic schedule to keep, but I’m living my dream!
Since you are on TV, give us the scoop on your favorite shows.
When I’m not watching sports, I’m watching a sitcom. My current favorite is “Modern Family.” My all-time favorites include “Friends,” “The Office,” “Parks and Recreation,” “Sex and the City” and “Entourage.” In high school, my bedroom was set up to look just like Monica and Rachel’s apartment on “Friends.”
How did you end up in Atlanta? What is your favorite part about living in this city?
I moved to Atlanta in 2012 to cover basketball and football recruiting across the Southeast. My mother is from Valdosta, GA, and my father is from Tuscaloosa, AL, so I’m a Southern girl at heart! Tallahassee will always be my hometown, but Atlanta is now my home.
Where’s your favorite place in Atlanta to shoot some hoops? Any local gyms or studios where you like to break a sweat?
Thanks to one too many knee injuries (and apart from the annual NBA All-Star Celebrity Game), my basketball playing days are behind me. These days, I spend my time hitting the heavy bag and in the boxing ring. I train at X3 Sports with Clint Hester, a current UFC fighter and former contestant on “The Ultimate Fighter.” Needless to say, he’s pushed me to my best physical shape since playing college ball.
Where’s your favorite place to eat in Atlanta?
For as often as I work out (and because I’m often surrounded by grown men), I’ve learned to put away food like a grown man. For a night on the town with my girls, I love Bistro Niko and Ra Sushi — and on the nights I’m looking to kick back in my sneakers, I head to Grindhouse Killer Burgers, Tin Lizzy’s or Mama’s Cocina Latina.
What’s more impressive in your opinion:
a. Powerhouse dunk
b. Way outside three-pointer
c. Stylish scoop layup
d. Giving live play-by-plays
B! As a player, my dad always reminded me that “three is more than two.” Obvious advice, but it kept my feet behind that three-point line and always ready to shoot! Still the most impressive (and my favorite) skill in basketball.
You seem to straddle the line between girly girl (as a previous beauty contestant) and jock (volleyball and basketball student-athlete, sports reporter). Do you think girls today have more freedom when it comes to defining who they are and their interests?
Absolutely! One of my personal goals is to celebrate both the beauty AND brains of the women around me — and I believe the ones thriving in this industry have embraced both. As women, we are doing ourselves a disservice believing that beauty and intelligence must remain mutually exclusive. My mother (also a former beauty queen) raised my sister and me to believe that “pretty is as pretty does.” Though many critics have cause to believe otherwise, it is quite possible to see success in a male-dominated industry without avoiding or exploiting our innate femininity. Instead of teaching our girls to be one or the other — beautiful or intelligent, attractive or excellent — I’m proud to be part of a wave of women championing both.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
My dad always told me to “follow through.” Worked in basketball; still works in life.
What three things can you not live without, excluding family, friends and faith?
Excluding faith, family, and friends? There’s nothing else I can’t live without! Oh, maybe my cat.
Thank you to Kristen Ledlow for being a part of our FACES series and sharing your story about determination, hard work and believing in yourself.
And, as always, thank you to CatMax Photography for the unbelievably stunning photography!