Ernie Johnson, Jr. is one of sport’s most respected and loved personalities. The six-time Sports Emmy Award winner and host of TNT’s “Inside the NBA” has helped audiences break down games and belly laugh for decades. “Inside” was honored by the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame as the inaugural winner of the “Transformative Media Award” for its impact on the game of basketball. Ernie is also co-host of The Steam Room podcast and a host for Turner and CBS’s NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship coverage, as well as Major League Baseball on TBS. In his thirty-plus years at Turner his duties have included The PGA Championship, The Open Championship, NFL, Wimbledon, and the Olympics.
In addition to his professional accolades and lifetime achievement awards, Ernie has earned honors recognizing his incredible actions off-camera, including the first-ever John Wooden Keys to Life Award and a Musial Award, both of which salute characteristics such as integrity, faith, and good sportsmanship. In 2023 he was awarded the Vince Lombardi Cancer Foundation’s “Award of Excellence.” He has also been inducted into the Atlanta Sports Hall of Fame and the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame. A 1978 graduate of the University of Georgia, he delivered the commencement address to the graduating class of 2017.
Maybe more impressive than his professional fame and recognition is Ernie’s innate ability to connect with people on a human level. His willingness to discuss topics such as the adoption of his and his wife Cheryl’s children, including their special needs son Michael; the death of his father and best friend, iconic sportscaster and pitcher Ernie Johnson; and his own battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and prostate cancer has endeared him and given hope to millions.
His New York Times best-selling book “Unscripted: The Unpredictable Moments That Make Life Extraordinary,” takes readers behind the scenes of those very moments. With grace and humility, Ernie gives readers a look at TV’s most popular shows and broadcasts, as well as into the privacy of his own home to share hard-won lessons in being open and slowing down to savor what he calls the “blackberry moments” that truly matter. “Unscripted” takes readers back to Ernie’s early days, offering intimate insight into his athletic career, first jobs in TV, falling in love, his close relationship with his father and more. While the book is full of warm tales from Ernie’s youth and hilarious outtakes featuring coworkers Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith, and Shaquille O’Neal, “Unscripted” does not stick solely to life’s happy surprises. From the passing of his father, the adoption of their special needs children, the health scares of his son Michael, to his own cancer challenges, and much more, Ernie shares the gut-wrenching side of weathering the unexpected with grace, wit, and wisdom. Ernie lives in Braselton, Georgia, with his wife, Cheryl, and their six children, four of whom are adopted, and they have been blessed with five grandchildren.