From the time that Tim Kawakami was a boy, sports have always been a part of his life. Whether he was playing with his three brothers or talking about it with his friends, sports were always at the forefront.
Kawakami is known today as the editor-in-chief of the San Francisco Bay Area edition of the online-subscription based website, The Athletic. But the award-winning sportswriter didn’t always know that this was going to be his career path.
After being talked out of going to law school by his oldest brother, Kawakami started to pursue writing as a profession. He had always liked to write, and his brother advised him to try journalism.
Kawakami originally considered going to the University of California, but he applied to Northwestern just to see what happened. Northwestern accepted his application, and it was the start of a new experience for the San Francisco Bay area native who had, in his own words, “never really been east of Lake Tahoe.”
Adjusting to the culture of Midwest and being surrounded by experienced writing students pushed him to mold his ambition, which led to an internship at the New York Times. This was also around the same time Kawakami started to get interested in sports writing.
While he admitted it was a strange place to get into sports, Kawakami said the New York Times helped him clarify things and talk to people in the profession.
After his internship ended, Kawakami started writing about sports for The Daily Northwestern, where he wrote about a variety of collegiate teams. That led to an internship with the Philadelphia Daily News, which was a tryout that eventually led to him being a full-time hire as Eagles beat writer for the Daily News.
Kawakami moved to the LA Times in 1990 where he covered the Rams before they moved to St. Louis three years later. He then transitioned to covering boxing, which he points to as what helped him shape his voice as a writer.
Eight years after moving to back to the west coast, he became the beat writer for the Los Angeles Lakers, which gave him the chance to cover Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal. But Kawakami had a growing interest in becoming a columnist. So, he made another switch, this time to the San Jose Mercury and a chance to write a column.
Kawakami started a blog called “Talking Points” and “The TK Show” podcast while working at the Mercury. He also became a regular on Yahoo SportsTalk Live with a segment called “But Seriosuly.”
Kawakami left the Mercury in 2017 to work for The Athletic. It’s a different experience for him, but that’s what he likes about it. He saw the potential in the startup and said the possibilities were endless. Those things convinced him that there wasn’t even a question about joining the website.
Kawakami has written two books: “Golden Boy: The Fame, Money, and Mystery of Oscar De La Hoya” and “Laker Glory: The 2000 NBA Champions.”