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Television sports host James “JB” Brown was born on February 25, 1951 in Washington, D.C. to Mary Ann and John Brown. He graduated from DeMatha Catholic High School in Hyattsville, Maryland in 1969 and received his B.A. degree in American government in 1973 from Harvard University.
At DeMatha Catholic High School, Brown was the star basketball player under renowned coach Morgan Wootten. He then played basketball at Harvard University before being drafted by the Atlanta Hawks in 1973. Brown began his career in sales at Xerox in Washington, D.C. in 1974, which led to his employment at Eastman Kodak and Raven Systems. After providing commentary for the Washington Wizards NBA team in 1979, he was hired as a sports commentator for BET, TVS, and USA Network. In 1981, Brown joined Washington D.C.’s Channel 9, a CBS affiliate, and Channel 7, an ABC affiliate, as a weekend sports anchor and weekday sports reporter. He was hired by CBS in 1983 as a full-time sports commentator and then a play-by-play announcer for NFL on CBS in 1987. Brown subsequently hosted America’s Black Forum and the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France and the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway before being named the host of Fox NFL Sunday later that year. From 1997 to 1999, he hosted The World’s Funniest and several radio shows. Brown then rejoined CBS Sports in 2006 as host of The NFL Today and joined HBO and later Showtime as host of Inside the NFL in 2008. Brown, who has hosted the Super Bowl a record-setting ten times, also hosted Thursday Night Football on CBS. He has also served as a special correspondent for CBS News on such programs as 60 Minutes and CBS Evening News. In 2009, he was named the community ambassador for AARP. Brown also co-founded Brown Technology Company, and is a minority owner of the Washington Nationals MLB team and an ordained minister.
Brown served on the board of GENYOUth and has been involved with Rhema Christian Center Church, the Ron & Joy Paul Kidney Center at George Washington University, and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Brown has been the recipient of many honors and awards, including three Emmy Awards for Outstanding Studio Host. He also received the 2005 Sam Lacy Award from the Greater Washington Urban League, the 2006 Pat Summerall Award, the 2016 Pete Rozelle Award from the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the Director’s Award for Broadcasting from 100 Black Men of America, and the Uncommon Award from Tony Dungy. Brown was named Best Studio Host of the Decade by Sports Illustrated in 2010 and elected to the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 2020. The NFL Players Association’s JB Awards are named in his honor.
Brown’s memoir, Role of a Lifetime: Reflections on Faith, Family and Significant Living, written with Nathan Whitaker, was published in 2009.
Brown and his wife, Dorothy Brown, live in Washington, D.C. He has one daughter, Katrina Brown.
James “JB” Brown was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 9, 2022.