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Pye, Brad, Jr. | Special Collections & Archives

Name: Pye, Brad, Jr.

Historical Note:

Brad Pye, Jr. was born June 11, 1931 in Plain Dealing, Louisiana. He moved to Los Angeles at the age of twelve and lived on Central Avenue where he looked after himself without family support until his mother joined him four years later. During that time he made a living as a gas station attendant, shoe shiner, and garment factory worker. Pye enjoyed athletics and became interested in sports writing while attending Thomas Jefferson High where he was recognized with a journalism award in 1949 for his contributions to the school newspaper. After graduation, Pye went on to play center position with the 1949 undefeated football team of East Los Angeles College where he studied journalism and wrote for the school's newspaper. He was the college's first African-American student public relations director and its first Black member of Beta Phi Gamma, the honorary journalism society. Pye completed his Associate of Arts degree at Compton College and served two years in the United States Marine Corps before enrolling at California State University, Los Angeles where he served as sports editor for the school's award-winning newspaper.

Pye led a distinguished career as a sports journalist and broadcaster. He was the sports editor of the Los Angeles Sentinel for nearly thirty years and wrote sports columns for the L.A. Watts Times, Compton Bulletin, Inglewood Today, and Inland Valley News. He also worked for twenty-one years as the sports director of radio stations KGFJ, KJLH, KACE, and KDAY. Pye was the first African-American sportscaster in Los Angeles and over the course of his career he worked to establish racial equality in the field of sports not only for athletes, but also for officials and other sports-related professionals. Alongside Brock Brockenbury, Pye helped obtain press box accommodations for Black journalists at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. He also led a successful campaign at the University of Southern California to recognize the school's first All-American football player, Brice U. Taylor (class of 1925), who, as an African-American, was never recorded in the university's media guide. Pye promoted young African-American athletes in Southern California through his sports columns, radio broadcasts, and by organizing corporate sponsorships. He recruited Black athletes for the University of California, Los Angeles, the University of Southern California, the Los Angeles (later San Diego) Chargers, and the Oakland Raiders. He became the first African-American public relations staffer in Major League Baseball while working for the Los Angeles Angels in 1961 and was the first African-American administrator in the American Football League while serving under Commissioner Al Davis.

In addition to his work as a sports journalist, Pye was a dedicated community advocate active throughout the City of Los Angeles and greater Los Angeles County. He hosted mentoring sessions for local youth and was involved with the Watts-Willowbrook Boys and Girls Club, the Greater Los Angeles Poverty Agency, the Los Angeles Urban League, the Brotherhood Crusade, and the Board of Economic and Youth Opportunities Agency of Greater Los Angeles, among many other organizations. Pye was the first African-American President of the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks Board of Commissioners and paved the way for Black promotions to senior-level positions within the department. He served as the Assistant Chief Deputy for Los Angeles County Supervisor Kenneth Hahn and worked with Yvonne Braithwaite Burke after Hahn retired. Under Burke, Pye created the Aquatics Foundation to promote swimming skills and instruction for local youth. In 1991 he ran for the Los Angeles City Council District 9 to fill the seat vacated by Gilbert Lindsay's death, but ultimately lost to Rita Walters. In 1993 Pye became a Division Chief of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services. He retired from the county in 2011 after twenty-four years of service.

Pye received more than 100 awards for community involvement and excellence in journalism over the course of his career and has been hailed the "Dean of Black Sportscasters" for his leadership and pioneering efforts in American sports.

Note Author: Christine Hertzel

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