Sports News Without Access, Favor, Or Discretion

On June 20, I traveled to the headquarters of "YouTube Sports" to sit down for an interview with Kige Ramsey. It was a three-part interview because Kige has difficulty loading clips of more than three minutes. At the time I planned on running my own interview and story about Kige with CBS. But then I left the ClayNation column and moved over to Deadspin. Meaning the video interview existed in this internet netherworld — inexplicable yet clearly existing. Like Kige himself. Since the interview was posted people have been emailing wanting to know the story behind the interview. What Kige was really like? How this came to be? Now, here it is.About two weeks prior to June 20 I received a cryptic email message from youtube sports reporter Kige Ramsey asking whether I’d like to be interviewed by him. We exchanged emails. I assumed that maybe he was coming to Nashville to report from Titans training camp again. Kige disabused me of this notion rapidly. Informing me that he couldn’t come to Nashville but he wanted me to drive to Russellville, Kentucky and be interviewed at his parent’s house. I decided this made perfect sense. So on the afternoon of June 20, I drove 60 miles north to Russellville. Kige had given me the address to his house but I’d forgotten the printed directions. So I got twisted around fairly soon after arriving in Russellville. Making circle after circle through the small Southern town of 7,000—the Logan County seat—that Kige Ramsey calls home. Eventually, I found his street. I couldn’t decipher exactly which house was his because none of the houses had numbers on them, but I parked and walked to the front door of a small home that appeared to have a Kentucky Wildcats mailbox in the front yard. Surprisingly there were no large satellites to denote the headquarters of youtube sports. I knocked for about five minutes. I’d wait a few minutes and then knock again. Nothing. Kige and I had made an appointment with one another and still…nothing. I looked down at my blackberry to confirm that the address was correct. Only my blackberry was no longer working. Not one bit of signal. At this point, I started to get a bit nervous. Primarily because walking around a rural Southerner’s house is always dangerous. There are guns and there are dogs 100% of the time. Don’t believe me? I’ve been bitten by a dog and I’ve been shot at while rolling a cheerleader’s house. But I make the decision that perhaps the back door is the primary entrance. So I walk around a well-kept with brown shutters, the grass is trimmed short, there’s the welcoming hum of a window air-conditioning unit. And I stand knocking on the door in the backyard. I scan the windows expecting at any moment to see the owlish eyes of Kige peering out over the windowsill at me, the internet’s own Boo Radley come to life. After a couple of minutes the doorknob rattles—I’m hoping I don’t see a gun barrel— and a woman opens the door. She stands, shyly, inside the dim expanse of the doorway. At first I think she’s very young, then, she steps closer to me, out of the dimness, and I see that she’s retarded. She smiles at me and opens her mouth. An older woman steps in front of her then. My heart is hammering. “What did I tell you about opening this door for strangers?” she asks. Then she turns her attention to me. “I’m looking for Kige,” I say. “Kige who?” she asks. “Kige Ramsey,” I say, “of youtube sports.” “The what tube?” “The Ramsey’s.” “Oh, the Ramsey’s?” She places her hands on her hips and looks closely at me. “They’re on the other side of the street.” I leave then. Get in my car and floor it across the highway to a decent-sized white house with a large oak tree in the front yard. The front door is a bit ajar—there’s a screen door closed in front of it—and I can see the flickering lights of a television through the front window. I climb out of the car and walk slowly across the front yard. Up the steps, then push the doorbell. Moments later, I’m greeted by a giant. Kige is a mountain of a man. And that’s no exaggeration. I’m 6 foot 180 pounds and he towers above me.He's easily 6'5 and about 250 pounds. His bulk is disguised by the camera. Primarily because there is never anyone else to judge him against. His glasses are a bit askew, he’s wearing white socks up to mid-calf, a Western Kentucky Hilltoppers T-shirt, and shorts. And he’s looking down at me from one step higher. I’m overwhelmed. For a moment I know what Bob Costas’s entire life has been like. Kige is larger than life. “Well…hey,” Kige says to me ponderously. He opens the door and I follow him inside. There are no lights on aside from the television —a fifty inch big screen that is playing Sportscenter. “I have to stay on top of the news,” Kige says, gesturing to the screen. “My mom and dad are gone.” Baseball highlights are playing and Kige sits back down on the couch. After a short while I sit down beside him. Neither of us is speaking. We watch Sportscenter for about five minutes before I ask when we’re planning on doing the interview. “Well, you ready?” Kige asks. “Let’s go to the studio.” The "studio" is in a small alcove off to the side of the television room. Kige opens the door and steps through first. “Lots of people don’t believe I do this from the first floor,” he says, grinning at me. Kige has a practiced air of conversation. He often makes statements and then waits for you to respond. Like now. We stare at each other. Staring...staring...staring... “Cool,” I say. Having attained his response, Kige pushes his glasses up on to his nose and leads us inside the studio. As we enter the wood-paneled alcove Kige’s Wall of Honor is on the right side. Scrawled there, in pen, are several athletes names, their numbers, and their positions. A few feet further along the wall Kige has posted the Democratic and Republic presidential nominees. He has their names written at the top of the page and nothing else beneath them. There’s a small scuffle from near his brown card table. Kige is flipping through his books but can’t seem to locate Dixieland Delight. “I know I’ve got it here somewhere,” he says. On the wall directly in front of me are three pictures: UK coach Billy Gillispie, Western Kentucky’s new basketball coach, Ken McDonald, and Abraham Lincoln. To the far right is a weight bench —a large purple ball that’s used for abdominal exercise rests on top. Above that is a milk mustache Jeff Gordon poster. Kige is setting up the camera in front of us. The small, gray camera easily fits inside one of his massive palms. He sets it up, Kige turns on the klieg lights (in this case a large white one from Wal-Mart) and I enter from stage left after Kige’s introduction. We talk for about four minutes. Topics include: Jim Rome, SEC football, and Kige’s opinion of sideline reporters. Kige hates them. “They don’t do anything,” he explains. I ask whether he would be interested in doing sideline reporting. “I don’t want to be typecast,” he says. The first segment goes well and eventually Kige lumbers out of his seat and crosses the four foot distance that separates us from the wood paneled wall. “Uh oh,” he says, “the camera cut you out of the shot. All we’ve got is your voice. We’re going to have to do this in the living room.” I ask for a mug to drink from so we can make sure and do the interview right. Kige leads me to the kitchen and selects a black cup with Asian script on the side. “This is a good one,” he says. Back out in his parent’s den, Kige is struggling to move his brown card table from the studio alcove to the den. At long last he manages to succeed. “There,” he says. We do the interviews. That evening, when I watch them, I’ll note that Kige has a better video presence than I do. The camera loves Kige. After we finish the three-part interviews (this time I’m in the frame) Kige wants to give me a tour of Russellville. I tell him I don’t have time but that we can go grab some lunch. It’s his choice. “Take me somewhere good,” I say. Kige nods. We both go outside and I follow him into the road — thinking that we’re headed to a meat and three on the town square — a good southern restaurant. He’s driving his mom’s blue Chrysler LeBaron. We drive for about five minutes and Kige puts on his left turn signal. He’s pulling into Taco Bell. At the last moment though, he swerves the steering wheel and pulls in next door to the Taco Bell. At Captain D’s. We park and he bounds over to my car. I climb out. “I almost went to Taco Bell,” he says, “but I knew Captain D’s would be much better.” Inside at Captain D’s Kige orders a fish and chicken meal. I opt for chicken. It’s my treat. As we stand waiting for our food Kige says, “Do people recognize you out and stuff?” “Some times,” I say. Kige nods ponderously. “Not much for me,” he says. At that exact moment a woman leaving Captain D’s calls to us. “Hey there, Kige,” she says, “how’s your daddy and momma doing?” Kige answers and they leave after waving at one another. There are only a few people in the Captain D’s with us. “She doesn’t watch the show,” he says. We head to our seats and continue eating. Kige talks about how he’s posted over 240 videos and how much work that’s been. He’s not sure exactly what comes next and he’s gaining critics of late. This is Kige in winter, even though it’s summer at Captain D’s. “You know,” he says, without prompting, “people are starting to accuse me of selling out because I have sponsors and stuff now. But what do they know? I’ve got to make a living, right?” I offer him my hushpuppies and he takes them. Shovels one in his mouth. Whole. Kige talks about how his list of sources is growing, particularly in regards to Western Kentucky basketball. Even still he’s unsure what the future holds. We pause in contemplative silence. Eventually Kige Ramsey breaks the silence. “But, you know I almost made the Deadspin Hall of Fame last year. That's an awesome site.”

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