Justin Tinsley has established himself as one of the most talented journalists in the country for his sophisticated, entertaining and illuminating intersections of hip-hop, pop culture and sports. This is what drives him. This is the fuel that courses through his veins. Not to talk about sports in a specific X’s and O’s manner or music in a strictly technical sense. Justin is far more interested in the emotions that drive these athletes and these creatives. His very first piece at ESPN in the summer of 2015 dealt with Marvin Gaye’s NFL tryout with the Detroit Lions and how that inspired his groundbreaking song "What’s Going On."
From there it was on. Malcolm X and Jackie Robinson’s beef. An oral history with Los Angeles athletes on the night The Notorious B.I.G. was murdered. The emotional connection shared between first-time mothers like Lauryn Hill, Cardi B, and Serena Williams. Zion Williamson’s cultural impact on New Orleans. James Avery’s eternal legacy on the 1990s classic sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Jay-Z’s partnership with the NFL and so many topics in between. Justin is a fearless and singular talent when covering topics that not only drive the day but bringing conversations and stories to the forefront many never knew existed — and all from a fresh and unparalleled perspective. This is where Justin shines the brightest.
As a journalist, Justin is constantly evolving his creative pallet. He has made several television appearances on ESPN programs including SportsCenter, Outside The Lines with Bob Ley, Clinton Yates and Ryan Smit, The Six with Michael Smith and Jemele Hill, and Highly Questionable with Dan LeBatard. Justin’s work has also lived inside the pages of ESPN the Magazine with stories on Portland Trail Blazers superstar Damian Lillard’s musical career and chronicling the final steps in future Hall of Famer Dwyane Wade’s career. In February 2017, he penned the cover story featuring Grammy-winner Chance the Rapper and NBA All-Star Jimmy Butler. Justin was also featured in the LeBron James-produced and Jemele Hill-narrated documentary Shut Up and Dribble that focused on basketball’s long history with pop culture, fashion and social justice. His work, too, has been showcased in the New York Times via a book review on Super Bowl champion Michael Bennett’s Things That Make White People Uncomfortable. And currently, he serves as a co-host on The Undefeated’s weekly roundtable video series that tackles the latest trending topics, cultural moments and events.
For Justin, what’s next is what keeps him inspired. “I’m beyond blessed to cover these topics for a living,” he said. “But I’d be lying if I said the same list I made for myself two years ago hasn’t already been replaced with items I want to accomplish in the next two.” There’s a fire that stays eternally lit in Justin’s soul. The trick is to never allow his passion to realize it’s now his job. Passion has gotten Justin this far — further than his wildest dreams could’ve imagined just years earlier. And passion will be the reason he goes down an irreplaceable journalist, thought leader and creative of his generation. The marathon continues.
Ordained with a flow as soulful to black, post-Reaganomics America as Louis Armstrong’s saxophone during the days of civil rights, the street narratives of Brooklyn’s own Christopher Wallace—deified in music history as The Notorious B.I.G. and as Biggie Smalls—helped make him a definitive voice of a generation. Then, in in the Miracle Mile area of Los Angeles, in early morning hours of March 9, 1997, a paranoia he fought so desperately to escape became his reality. Wallace’s still-unsolved murder remains an open wound—with no real signs of a complete healing. Here we catch up with a few of the 1996-97 Los Angeles Lakers—Shaquille O’Neal, Nick Van Exel, and Corie Blount—as well as L.A.’s own Baron Davis and Marcellus Wiley (and even Shaq’s mother Lucille) to discuss what it was like living and playing in Los Angeles at the time of Biggie Smalls’ murder. Some were even supposed to be with B.I.G. the very night he was hit by four bullets— killed in a drive-by shooting.
Copyright © 2019