President's Lecture Series


Ralph Wiley: "The Creative Process"


Ralph Wiley

Document Type

Metadata Only




Mills Godwin Jr. Building - Auditorium

Lecture Series

President's Lecture Series


Ralph Wiley (April 12, 1952 – June 13, 2004) was an American sports journalist who wrote for Sports Illustrated and ESPN's Page 2. He was well known for his distinctive literary tone and his writings on race in America.

Born in Memphis, Tennessee, Wiley attended Knoxville College from 1972–75, where he played college football. After suffering an injury, he landed his first professional journalism job at the Knoxville Spectrum.

Upon graduation, Wiley earned a position at the Oakland Tribune, where he quickly climbed up the ranks from copy boy to beat writer and eventually became a regular columnist. In 1980, he coined the famous phrase "Billy Ball" to describe the managerial style of Billy Martin. In 1982, he was hired by Sports Illustrated, where he wrote 28 cover stories over a nine-year period, mainly about boxing, football, and baseball.

Wiley published several books during the course of his career, including Serenity, A Boxing Memoir; Why Black People Tend To Shout; and By Any Means Necessary: The Trials and Tribulations of Making Malcolm X, with Spike Lee.

Additionally, Wiley wrote articles for GQ, Premiere, and National Geographic. He was a weekly contributor to ESPN's Page 2, where he wrote more than 240 columns. His presence on TV included ESPN's The Sports Reporters and regular guest appearances on SportsCenter.

Media Type


Run Time

56:13 min


A 1/2" VHS copy of this lecture is available in the Special Collections & University Archives Department of Old Dominion University Perry Library. Call #: LD4331.A57 1998b

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