Every so often a new sports reporter comes onto the scene and immediately catches the attention of fans world wide. We’ve seen it with Erin Andrews, Sam Ponder and many others, but one of the most recent reporters to do so is ESPN’s Maria Taylor. She joined the SEC Network in 2014 and has quickly climbed the ranks since. While Taylor still works the sidelines during college football season, she has expanded her duties to the NFL and also serves as a host for NBA Countdown while making appearances on Get Up as well. As much as we think we know her from watching her on TV, there’s still plenty to learn. So without further a do, let’s get to know more about ESPN’s Maria Taylor.
Maria Taylor: early life and height
Born and raised in Alpharetta, Georgia, Taylor was not only a tremendous athlete, she was very tall as well. The six-foot-one and a quarter Taylor attended Centennial High School where she was a standout member on the basketball and volleyball teams.
As a basketball player she made Atlanta’s Tip-Off Team and was named the Fulton County Scholar Athlete of the Year. As good as she was at bball, she was an even better volleyball player. Taylor was a three time Offensive MVP, three time All Regional Selection and received All-State honors as a senior.
Taylor played basketball and volleyball at the University of Georgia
Her hard work in high school earned her a scholarship to the University of Georgia where she continued to play volleyball and basketball. While at Georgia, Taylor was All-SEC as a volleyball player three times. Her collegiate success landed her a spot on the USA A2 National Volleyball team as well.
Taylor graduated in 2009 with a degree in broadcast news and returned to UGA for grad school where she received her MBA. While pursuing her masters, Taylor worked as a host and reporter for IMG College and Comcast.
Maria Taylor, ESPN
Basically immediately after earning her MBA, Taylor began working at ESPN. Her first role at the network was as a sideline reporter for ESPN 2’s Saturday Night college football coverage. During her early days at ESPN she also reported on women’s college basketball and volleyball. In 2014, ESPN promoted Taylor to the SEC Network as a college football analyst and reporter where she would travel around the country with Tim Tebow and the SEC Nation crew.
In 2017 things really started to take off for Taylor. She was added to the College GameDay team and began reporting on ABC’s Saturday Night Football coverage.
Thanks to her multi-sport background, Taylor has been one of the most versatile reporters at ESPN. In 2019 she was brought on to NBA Countdown where she works with Jalen Rose and Jay Williams.
At this point, Taylor has reported on both men’s and women’s college basketball, college football, college volleyball, the NBA and the NFL. There aren’t many things she can add to her ESPN resume, but the sky is the limit for her.
Maria Taylor’s Instagram
As Taylor’s presence continues to grow at ESPN, so does her Instagram following. Right now Taylor has 254 thousand followers on the platform.
A quick scroll through her feed will show highlights from her ESPN segments, photos of her with her colleagues, the occasional “Throwback Thursday” and outtakes from her day-to-day life. Here are some examples of what Taylor posts to her account.
Maria Taylor’s husband
Taylor has been married to former college basketball player Rodney Blackstock since May of 2019. Blackstock played basketball at UNC Greensboro for just one season averaging 3.95 points per game for the Spartans.
The two met at a Charlotte Hornets game in 2014. Taylor recalls the night she first saw Blackstock saying “I remember seeing him and telling my friend, ‘If we keep coming to these games, I’m going to end up dating him.”
Ironically enough, Blackstock saw Taylor as well and had mutual thoughts. Because Taylor is so tall, Blackstock thought she may have played in the WNBA. After the game, Blackstock made his move.
He approached Taylor, in what was apparently a dare. In an interview with The Knot Taylor recalls his first words to her. Blackstock approached Taylor and said “You’re not as tall as I am.” To which Taylor replied “‘I don’t know if that’s a pick-up line,” but it started a good conversation.”
They exchanged phone numbers and parted ways only to reconnect in the parking lot. The two must have really hit it off because instead of going home they got some food and stayed up talking until 5:00 am.
The Engagement Part I:
Taylor and Blackstock fell for each other very quickly. After just eight months of dating, Blackstock proposed and Taylor said yes. As time went by, the couple felt like they were rushing the marriage and called things off.
Taylor said “I wasn’t ready to be a wife and he wasn’t ready to be a husband. We just needed more time. As difficult as it was to break off the wedding, we wanted to be in a better place together—especially when you go through a life-changing event like a wedding.”
The Engagement Part II:
As time went by, Taylor realized that he was the one for her. She said “I wanted him to be close to me all the time, I want us to live together. I want to come home off the road and be with him. There was a moment, literally around the Super Bowl this year, that we were just like ‘Forget it. We’re just going to get back together.’”
The two decided to get back together and planned a wedding. They got married in Destin, Florida and the rest is history.
Rachel Nichols controversy
Recently, Taylor has been the subject of a lot of sports media attention due to a controversy with Rachel Nichols. The New York Times reported on Nichols’ leaked 2020 comments about Taylor’s NBA Finals promotion at ESPN.
“I wish Maria Taylor all the success in the world — she covers football, she covers basketball,” Nichols reportedly said in July 2020. “If you need to give her more things to do because you are feeling pressure about your crappy longtime record on diversity — which, by the way, I know personally from the female side of it — like, go for it. Just find it somewhere else. You are not going to find it from me or taking my thing away.”
Taylor, meanwhile, could reportedly end up leaving ESPN. Her contract at the network reportedly expires later in July and NBC is being mentioned as a potential landing spot.
For now, though, she’ll continue to host NBA Countdown for the network.