Years ago, Aaron “Showtime” Taylor stood on the sidelines of a prison basketball game and started doing play-by-play a cappella. Now he has co-host Damon L. Cookë , a support crew, and he uses audio equipment borrowed from the state. Plus, this year, he commentated on the Golden State Warriors community basketball game with guest-host After the Game Commentator Larry Beil and Golden State Center JaVale McGee.
“Sitting there with Larry Beil in a sense is like sitting at the desk on Sports Center or After the Game,” the 51-year-old Taylor said. “The only difference is he came into my house and after the butterflies, he fell into the guest speaker spot like the professional that he is, sitting between me and Damon L. Cookë, the Sage of SQ. It was like three pros were up there. I couldn’t be more humbled, excited and thankful he came in to be a part of that.”
Taylor has become a fixture at big sporting events at San Quentin, like when the Pacifics Independent Pro baseball team played the SQ All-Stars and the annual community basketball games. However, the Sept. 15 game, in which San Quentin Warriors’ team beat its cross-Bay namesakes, marked a significant step in Taylor’s career.
Before several media outlets, including ABC, ESPN, The Athletic, The San Francisco Chronicle, Life of the Law and others, Taylor showed he’s ready for the pros.
“I couldn’t be more impressed with what he did that day,” Vic Stauffer, president of the Pittsburg Diamonds pro independent baseball team, said. Stauffer acted as referee for the game. “I got a job for him doing public address and play-by-play when he comes home. He’s pro ready.”
Taylor verbally led Beil and McGee through the prison sports world with the nicknames he gave players based on their attributes. “Fatality” he called SQ Warrior Cornell “Corn” Shields for his killer instinct at the rim. Shooting Guard Montrell Vines he tagged, “Pull-up Swish.” On the Golden State squad, he called assistant GM Kirk Lacob “Capt. Kirk” and GM Bob Myers he dubbed, “Big Money Bob.”
Beil said, “He’s (Taylor) is very experienced. He has a little flavor to his game.”
Just when the crowd thought nothing could top Beil co-hosting prison basketball, McGee took over for a little while.
“Larry Beil was a professional,” Taylor said. “He showed me what it’s like to go into an area you’ve never been to before, observe and call on all your professional skills and come back. McGee gave it that Amateur Night at the Apollo feel ̶ two different things but both cool.”
“He has a little flavor to his game”
Assisting Taylor were stats keepers Jack “Big Body Benz” Benford, Whitney “Whit” Jackson, Faheem “The Dream” Fuller, Edward “E” Moss, and his audio man Steve Pascascio.
“I can’t do what I do here without the Show Time Production Crew,” Taylor said.
Taylor also provided the audience with comical commercials and a rap song performed by Philippe Kelly.
As an alarm sounded, requiring all incarcerated people to take a seat, Taylor joked, “This alarm is brought to you by Get Down Productions; whenever you hear that buzzing sound, get your (butt) on the ground.”
For people from the community standing on a mainline prison yard for the first time, wondering what was going on, Taylor’s making light of the disturbance put the crowd at ease.
Taylor has served 22 years of a 50-years-to-life sentence under the Three-Strikes Law for attempted robbery and assault in the first degree. However, under recent law changes, Taylor may have a chance at parole in 2025 or even sooner. When the day comes, he hopes to go home to his wife from London and do play-by-play for NBA games.
“Adonal Foyle could easily get his job took,” Cookë said.