Rosalyn Gold-Onwude is a basketball analyst who landed an international deal with Turner Sports after spending three seasons as the Golden State Warriors’ sideline reporter for NBC Bay Area. She is also an Emmy Award-winning sports reporter and analyst who covers ‘NBA on TNT’, men’s and women’s college hoops for Pac-12 Networks, the men’s NCAA Tournament for CBS. She previously joined Comcast SportsNet’s Sunday coverage of the San Francisco 49ers.
17 Interesting Facts About Rosalyn Gold-Onwude You Never Knew
1. She Covered Men’s Basketball At The Rio Olympics:
Rosalyn Gold-Onwude covered the Gold Medal-winning U.S.A. Basketball team in the 2016 Rio Olympics in Brazil. She spoke to PopSugar saying:
“The highlight of my career so far has been working at the Rio Olympics. I was covering the Olympics on the international level for NBC, which was the biggest stage for men’s basketball. That is really rare, especially for a 29-year-old black woman, to do. It was a huge deal for me, and I think it also changed the seriousness with which I was taken in this industry. I was also able to build relationships with the top players and coaches, and it’s still helping me today in my current job. It really was a very beneficial experience. I’d say that’s the highlight.
2. Rosalyn Gold-Onwude Boyfriend:
RGO accompanied rapper Drake as his date to the red carpet of the first annual NBA Awards in 2017, which he also happened to host.
3. She Can Make Anything Funny:
On Jan. 15, 2018, she stood outside the Los Angeles Clippers’ locker room, reporting on a disturbance between members of the Clippers and the Houston Rockets. Despite the tension, her on-camera report for Inside the NBA resulted in a hilarious moment between commentators Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal that soon went viral.
As you can see, she gets a lot of love from fans as a reporter and has also been the subject of numerous memes on the internet, something that makes her smile at times.
The first time she landed herself in a meme situation was while interviewing Klay Thompson, during which her remark about his efficiency on both offense and defense turned out to be a double entendre. However, the meme of her and Ayesha Curry during a post-game interview with Steph Curry made her the target of unwanted attention, and even cyber-bullying from women especially.
4. Covering The Warriors’ Over The Years Has Her Feeling Proud:
“Covering the Warriors’ surge to greatness — I feel proud that I was able to improve fast enough to keep up with them! I feel that I gave it my best shot and covered it with the grace that it deserved, and I was very fortunate, very lucky, and very blessed to be a fly on the wall for all of that.” – Popsugar interview
5. Her Parents:
Born in Queens, NY, to a Nigerian father and a Russian-Jewish mother, she began playing basketball when she was just 4 years old. Because her father was born in Nigeria, she was invited to play for the Nigerian national basketball team, which she accepted after consulting with ESPN, and helped the team advance to the semi-finals of the Fiba-Africa Olympic Qualifier tournament in 2011
Her mother, who was the roommate of coach Tara VanDerveer at State University of New York in Albany, had contributed to her Stanford scholarship opportunity by sending her college tapes.
RGO moved to Atlanta after signing a deal with Turner Sports in late 2017.
“I’ve always been taught that I’m representing something bigger than myself. It was always important to my father how we represented our home and our family. Many Nigerian kids can speak to the fact that their Nigerian parents always wanted them to do well. Academics were also very important to my mother, and she was the one really pushing basketball [on me]. From there, [Stanford Hall of Fame Coach] Tara VanDerveer constantly reminded us, “You don’t just represent yourself. You represent the name on the jersey. You’re representing a whole university.”
6. She Was An Athlete In College:
After getting a sports scholarship to Stanford University, where she made three consecutive trips to the Final Four, she was honored as the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year.
Later graduating from Stanford with a bachelor’s degree in communications and a master’s in sociology in 2010, she took a job with Tesla Motors — but her heart was always with the game. She chased broadcasting jobs on the side and worked for Pac-12 Networks, the WNBA, and the NBA Development League before joining the Warriors as a sideline reporter.
“It was like a rocket ship,” Gold-Onwude says of the team’s meteoric rise to greatness. As Golden State went on to compete in three straight NBA Finals (and take home two championship titles), her fame skyrocketed, too.
7. Rosalyn Gold-Onwude Knows The Game Flawlessly:
“ I was really fortunate that I was given the game of basketball at the age of 4 by my mom. She introduced me to the game. And knowingly or not, it’s really become a vehicle in my life. When people say, “Ball is life,” I chuckle, but it’s true: basketball has been my whole life. It has continued to give to me. Basketball provided me an athletic scholarship to college. It’s given me great teammates and great experiences on the court. It’s given me a career that I love. It’s given me many of my closest friends. [Making] the shift from playing to broadcasting was a way to stay close to the game that I love. Not everybody is going to continue on to be a pro athlete, but you can still have a career close to the game you’re passionate about. I think it’s important for young people to understand that you can still have your passions and be close to them in other creative job fields.”
8. Her Life Turned After She Joined Tesla Motors:
She started broadcasting as a side hustle while she was at Tesla, and turned it into a full-fledged career.
“Broadcasting is the entertainment industry (and) a really competitive business. You don’t just say, “I want to be a broadcaster” and get a full-time job. You don’t even get a part-time job, for the most part. I played basketball at a high level. However, I’m not one of the Maya Moores or Cynthia Coopers of the game.”
“My first role in broadcasting started in the analyst and color-commentator role, and it’s probably the best thing that’s happened for me because I [could] really talk about and break down the game. That was more helpful than I even knew.”
“ I had five gigs with ESPN around women’s college basketball. I think you’re paid less than $1,000 for each gig, so I needed a full-time job. I got both my bachelor’s and my master’s at Stanford, and Tesla was recruiting from Stanford. I had an opportunity to work for them and moonlight with the broadcasting gigs that I had. I told [Tesla] that I was still in this “figuring it out” space, so they were very flexible with me.”
9. She Told This Secret About Being Broke In The Start To Pop Sugar Magazine:
“I’ll share something I haven’t shared before: that first year out of school was actually the worst year of my life. I left the comfort of having a basketball team caring [for me], and my long-term relationship ended — suddenly [I was] trying to figure out who I was alone. I didn’t necessarily know which way I wanted to go with my career: should I play ball, should I do broadcasting, should I get a corporate job? At home, my mom was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s and dementia; she had lost her job, and we lost our apartment. My sister was going through her own problems and had to find her own path, [and] my dad had just moved to Nigeria, so he was across the world setting up his life there. It was a really hard time in my life, and it all happened at the same time. But I think what happened was a blessing in some ways. It made me tough in a way I never had to be tough. “
“I didn’t have any other options if things didn’t get figured out in my professional life. So I took the Tesla job and chased other odd jobs in broadcasting: I was writing for the Stanford football recruiting website, teaching a public speaking course, and coaching my landlord’s daughter’s basketball team so that I could get half off the rent! Eventually, I was able to piece enough odd jobs together that I was almost able to call it a very low salary. I left Tesla and chased this broadcasting dream full-time. It was very humbling, sometimes embarrassing. I felt I was being selfish by pursuing my dream, especially given how much pressure there was at home. I definitely thought about giving up broadcasting.”
10. She’s Supportive Of Other Women In Her field:
The energy, passion, and confidence that she brings to her job have made her a beloved figure among NBA fans. While she recognizes the importance that her role plays in the representation of women of color in white male-dominated spaces, Gold-Onwude is quick to credit other high-profile black journalists such as Jemele Hill, Cari Champion, and Stephanie Ready who have “trailblazed ahead” of her.
“I’m thankful that there’s already a path paved,” she said. “I’m just trying to make my moves and find my own voice within this world.”
11. She Is A Philanthropic Person:
Rosalyn Gold-Onwude had to grow up pretty fast after college.
“For me it was a really quick shift from being a girl in college with a support system to having all of my support systems pulled right from under me — the comfort of a college basketball team, and the comfort of a relationship (with her older ex boyfriend), and the comfort of having a home to go to and [my] mom being the mother figure — and suddenly realizing, “I’m the person who’s in charge.”
“I didn’t have money or any real-world experience, [so] I had to learn quickly. I was thrust into a position where I had to figure out lawyers, social work, and places my mom could go. Literally, we were homeless. I had to find shelters; I had to find communities for women in need — and eventually, as we figured out her diagnosis, places that could help those with dementia.”
These life experiences made her partner with Qubed Education to launch a $1 million scholarship program in her name for disadvantaged youth who want to pursue careers in sports. It’s something incredibly important to her; she espouses the values that sports have given her, like overcoming adversity, developing confidence, and being part of a team. Sports not only gave Gold-Onwude a college education and a career, but they’ve also been a beacon of light during some especially dark days.
“My scholarship will be focusing on finding young women who love sports — especially in minority groups — and empowering them and giving them the resources to learn and pursue what they care about. I also want to be very much hands-on — giving them the opportunity to speak with me, shadow me, learn from my experiences, and gain their own resources. In addition to the scholarship money, students will receive an Ivy League completion certificate [from Columbia] and get an insider view of what this industry is about. We want a hands-on experience where they can also come away with something practical, and we’re targeting those that need it most. I’m excited about it! “
12. Starting The Pink Room:
Rosalyn Gold-Onwude’s career changed with The Pink Room, which was a digital show she created with a friend as they filmed it out of her bedroom.
They covered women’s basketball, and did a couple episodes and then pitched it to the Pac-12 Conference, which Rosalyn Gold-Onwude played in while at Stanford. They said,
“This is cool. Can you do this for the conference for all 12 teams? We can’t pay you this year, but it can help you get your foot in the door.” So she and her pal did it: “we pulled all-nighters, drove two hours to get there and come back and put this thing together, and we did it each week for 12 teams. “
Before Rosalyn Gold-Onwude knew it, Pac-12 Networks started, and she got a contract from them.
“That was the first time I could definitively say, “I have a salary, and I’m a full-time broadcaster.” From there, I was able to continue to build into not only women’s college, but men’s college too — then WNBA, then NBA Development League, and then, finally, into the NBA with the Warriors. “
13. Advice To Young Hopeful Broadcasters:
“There will be a lot of rejection, especially in the entertainment business or a creative space. And in those moments, what helped me was responding with resilience and being resourceful — telling myself, “Let’s find a new way to try to get there, all right?” Networking and staying with it and continuing to hustle and work hard. Once doors start to open, they often continue to. It’s just getting over that initial hump. It’s like a four-minute mile: once you break it, you can really do it.”
14. A Male Dominated Field Isn’t Going To Stop This Black Woman:
Sports are the most male-dominated workplaces that can often be frustrating for women of color. As a black woman in sports journalism she speaks passionately about representation:
“I know who I am. I know where I’m from. Whenever I take a step forward, I understand I’m representing just by being there. I hope people are looking at the subtleties, because it’s all intentional. When I wear an outfit that has Ankara fabric or is from Nigeria, or when I put my hair in cornrows, it’s definitely to show we’re accepted here, and unapologetically so. Not only are black women doing it; we’re going to do it at a fashionable, fabulous high level, and it’s going to be popping [laughter]. I’m just being me and sharing the journey with everyone else”.
15. Her Hair Sends A Message:
With an interview alongside Popsugar magazine Rosalyn said she always thinks:
“Who am I representing? What am I representing?” and try to deliver my own personal style. I try to be myself in a few ways: it’s always been important to me not to have “reporter voice.” I want to talk the way I really talk to my friends. I hope when you listen to me, you hear someone that sounds relatable. I hope you’re hearing the joy and the energy that I carry when I talk about the game. I try to dress with color and vibrance and patterns that represent my culture and who I am as a person — and not just as a black woman, but as a mixed-race African woman. There’s not just one acceptable hairstyle for professionalism. You can have braids; you can have protective styles; you can have twists; you can change it up”.
16. She Wants To Encourage Minorities To Play More Sports:
“ I think playing sports helped me. I think all people should play sports; it’s especially helpful for minority groups. “
By this she doesn’t even mean becoming a pro; or she’s not even discussing going to college on a scholarship — instead she said, there are so many valuable lessons in life that you take from it.
“ You deal with overcoming adversity, teamwork, and developing confidence. Because of that, I’ve already pushed myself at a young age to get outside of my comfort zone; I’ve already dealt with eating humble pie, I’ve already dealt with having to buy into something bigger than myself, and I’ve already dealt with things not going my way. I come to work prepared, and I know what I’m talking about, and I think that the athletes and coaches respect that. I’m thankful to have worked for great networks — NBC Sports, Pac-12 Networks, and now Turner — that very much support people being themselves. I’ve worked within organizations that have allowed that”.
17. She’s Busy But Always Makes Time For What Is Important To Her:
“ I’ve always been pretty good at balance. People often look at my Instagram, and they’re like, “Girl, how are you doing this?” [Laughter.] But something that I’ve learned through all of this is that if you don’t make time for the things that are important to you, you will not do them”.
“And while I am pursuing a career, I’ve never wanted to be the woman that looks up and suddenly realizes she didn’t have any of the other things. I want a family. I want to have a social life. I want to have friends. And I think time management and good prioritization help me be able to do that. There are times when I have less sleep than others, but I make sure to mix in dinners with friends or time for family or a vacation or “Hey, let’s get that Groupon for a massage.”