From legendary Eddie Robinson, who retired from Grambling State as the winningest coach in college football history, to 2013 NBA Finals MVP LeBron James, Wallace has covered some of the biggest newsmakers in sports over the past two decades.
The names. The games. The historic events. The issues on and off the court. The drama in and out of court. From Michael Jordan to Mike Tyson, Tiger Woods to Roger Clemons, the Super Bowl to the White House – if a press credential got you access, chances are Wallace was there with a laptop, recorder, camera, pad and pen.
Wallace currently covers the NBA, primarily the three-time champions Miami Heat, for ESPN. It’s a dream job for Wallace, a Washington, D.C. native, whose mission is to reach out and help guide other aspiring journalists along the way to their goals in a field that sorely needs diversity, fresh viewpoints and innovative ideas.
Wallace started his career out of college covering education and politics in 1997 at The Times in Shreveport, Louisiana. He has since worked his way through the ranks, covering events ranging from presidential campaigns to Olympic Trials, the Million Man March to Hurricane Katrina, Eddie Robinson’s historic 400th victory to Tony Dungy becoming the first African-American coach in the NFL to win a Super Bowl.
However, journalism wasn’t his initial career ambition. A series of not-so-near-misses eventually led him into the field. Originally, his quest was to replace Bobby Brown and become the new fifth member of the R&B group New Edition. But actual singing and dancing ability were required, and the job went to fellow D.C. native Johnny Gill.
His ambition later shifted when he headed to Grambling State University in the early 1990s aiming to become the first NBA lottery pick from a historically black college. But that distinction went to Jackson State’s Lindsey Hunter, who was drafted by Detroit in 1993. That same year, his college basketball career ended before it got a chance to begin, thanks to scrub-level skills and a coaching change at Grambling.
Then came the epiphany: If you can’t join them, beat them or even play with them, might as well cover them. Wallace began writing for the student newspaper, The Gramblinite, and would later work summer jobs or internships at the Washington Post, Birmingham News, San Antonio Express-News and Newhouse News Service in Washington.
His full-time professional journey has included stops at the Tallahassee Democrat; The Clarion-Ledger of Jackson, Mississippi; The Miami Herald; and ESPN, covering education, politics, crime and sports. Wallace joined the Memphis Grizzlies in 2016 and resides in Memphis with his wife and children.
"Not only did he seem certain that journalism was the career for him, but he also believed -- and still does -- that he had something to offer the profession."
Joy Mercer, former senior editor
The Chronicle of Higher Education