By Zuri Berry
Class of 2007
BOSTON — For Gregory H. Lee Jr., becoming a sports editor has been a dream he has been chasing since 1996, when he was just getting his start at the New Orleans Times-Picayune, his hometown newspaper.
Tim Ellerbee, the sports editor at the time in New Orleans, offered Lee two choices: Come on staff as a reporter, or become a copy editor on his desk.
“I told him, I want your job,” Lee said. “So I became a copy editor.”
In September, that dream will become a reality when Lee starts at the South Florida Sun Sentinel. Lee, 38, will take over as the newspaper’s executive sports editor after serving the last eight years as a senior assistant sports editor at the Boston Globe. He’ll be just the third black sports editor at a major daily newspaper in the country. The others are Lisa Bell Wilson of the Buffalo News and Larry Graham of the San Diego Union- Tribune.
It’s been a whirlwind year for the New Orleans native. Not only is he the co-director of the Sports Journalism Institute, he’s also the president of the National Association of Black Journalists, in addition to his duties at the Globe. In the spring, he helped guide SJI’s latest class in Missouri during the institute’s boot camp before turning his attention to overseeing NABJ’s yearly convention in June.
“I’m accustomed to a hectic lifestyle,” Lee said. “I know that being NABJ president, and being an editor at the Globe with those duties, and then changing jobs, it can be hectic. But it’s a responsibility. I also know that what I do down in Fort Lauderdale, that I’m being a role model for those coming behind me. Ultimately, how I perform will determine whether there will be more people like me placed in these positions. And I understand that people look up to me for that.”
Lee spent the past eight years with the Globe, spearheading the sports section’s special coverage of the 2008 NBA Finals and Olympics in Beijing, as well as managing the section’s reporters. Before his time at the Globe, he was a copy editor and high school sports editor at the Washington Post.
The culmination of his career has been gratifying for those who have been with Lee from the beginning.
“This is a very proud moment for me. I have known Greg since his college days at Xavier University in New Orleans,” said mentor and SJI co-founder Leon H. Carter, the vice president and executive editor of ESPNNewYork.com to NABJ in a press release. “I have watched him grow from a writer, to a copy editor, to an editor and now an executive sports editor — a position that only a few African-Americans have reached. I have also seen him grow from a young journalist to NABJ president. Along the way, he has done terrific work at the Sports Journalism Institute, which prepares college students for sports writing, editing and digital internships. Throughout all this, Greg always has wanted to be a sports editor and to run his own show. Now is his time. He will do well in South Florida.”