OVER THE WALL
People parole from prison every day. Some even find jobs and turn out to lead good lives. Some might fail. But no parolee had ever become a broadcaster for the Golden State Warriors basketball game – until Aaron “Showtime” Taylor did it.
Taylor announced a game for the Golden State Warriors on April 10, 2021. He was able to do this, in part, because he was prepared: during his time at San Quentin, he worked as the Sports Editor for the San Quentin News. He was also the prison’s official public announcer (PA), announcing the basketball, football and baseball games on the yard.
Taylor perfected these skills in prison where he spent nearly 26 years for robbery and assault with a deadly weapon. However, doing time did not hold him back from fulfilling his goals.
While he was incarcerated, Taylor’s dreams of becoming a broadcaster were no secret. Everyone who had the privilege of knowing him knew that he would one day have the opportunity to use his voice—he’s got that natural gift of gab, and is not shy when it comes to flipping that tongue.
I had the privilege to do some prison time with Showtime at San Quentin, where I watched him in action. Listening to him was sometimes more entertaining than the game itself. He used his creative mind to nickname prison athletes with superhero-like names (including Anthony “Half Man—Half Amazing” Adams, or Jamaal “Do it all” Harrison) while he called the games play-by-play.
Timothy Hicks: Showtime, let the people know how it happened: you finding out you was requested to be the PA for the Championship team, the Golden State Warriors?
Aaron Taylor: I was prepared for the moment when I got the unexpected email from the Warriors organization.
TH: When the Warriors organization called you, I know you were excited. Coming from sleeping in a small cell on a hard bunk. Did they accommodate you with a place to stay while you waited for the game day?
AT: Man, they put me in a $300-a-night hotel. That bed was so comfortable, it felt way better than them hard bunks I used to sleep in at the prison. (Laughs)
TH: I watched a television interview that ABC-7’s Larry Beil had with you. Wow, look at you. Fresh out of prison and on National TV with one of the best sports announcers on TV. What did you tell him?
AT: I said that I embraced much more than what I was. It was like a dream come true.
TH: Beil said that you “raised the bar” and he pitched for you to get hired as the PA of Ice Cube’s Basketball league, the BIG3. He said that you would be a “good fit” at the BIG3 and you would fit perfectly. What did you say to that?
AT: I smiled and I called out to Cube since we from the same neighborhood.
TH: I saw that. I also saw that you said you feel like [you are] your favorite PA. Who is that?
AT: I feel like the reincarnation of my idol, the legendary Chick Hearn.
TH: There’s a big difference between being a PA for the professionals and doing it in prison. Before you entered the Chase Center, what was that like?
AT: I had to go through the COVID protocols. Once I was inside, I felt like I was in my element though. Yet, it also felt surreal. I got emotional when Steph Curry came over and gave me a hug after the game and presented me with the game ball. After the post-game interview, another Warrior poured a bottle of water on my head.
TH: How did that feel, besides being cold?
AT: It made me feel like I had made it. All the players and staff treated me like they had known me for years and when ex-Warrior Shaun Livingston gave me a compliment, it was a special moment to me. I was mic’d up by ESPN and they caught the exchange. I put the exchange on my [Instagram]. Russell Westbrook was playing that night too. This is something nobody else knows: he gave me the pair of shoes he played in that night.
TH: That’s big. I know that you used your play-by-play calling skills during the times the Golden State Warriors staff came to play the San Quentin Warriors. And the filming of the Q-Ball documentary spurred out of [those moments] too. Who was it that actually saw you and was intrigued about “Showtime” Taylor?
AT: It was the G-league General Manager, Kent Lacob of the Santa Cruz Warriors, who noticed me.
TH: I saw in an article that he said you were good when he saw you at the one of the games the Warriors had with the SQ Warriors at San Quentin. Who else saw your unique talents and was impressed?
AT: Warriors Manager Bob Myers, Draymond Green and former Warrior Kevin Durant, who actually produced Q-Ball, which actually was ESPY nominated. I appreciate the Warriors for giving me the opportunity to fulfill my dream.
TH: That’s what’s up. During your time in prison, was there anything you wish that you could of did and that you can do now that you are out?
AT: Yes, when I finally got out of prison I was finally able to properly grieve my brother’s 2006 death. Because men in prison can’t express their emotions in that way without being considered weak. Also, now that I’m out I can drink my favorite Starbucks coffee and eat lots of fried chicken which I really enjoy doing. I’m also determined to set a good example for my nieces and nephews. They are why I’m working hard to create generational wealth for my family — something that is void in Black families today.
TH: I can understand that. Speaking of generational wealth, what kind of jobs you are working now, and are you still doing PA gigs?
AT: Yes I am working. I work a regular job but I also am working multiple announcing jobs. I can be found on Instagram and my social media podcast. I represent y’all [the incarcerated]. Y’all are my inspiration, my drive and my reason to succeed. Laws are placed to prevent the incarcerated from apologizing to their victims. So, I will be the voice for the voiceless.
TH: In the Athletic interview you said, “It was all those self-help groups at SQ and my religious beliefs that helped me stay humble.” That’s a good thing.
AT: Yeah, I had to do that and I’m glad I did. So, the first thing I want to do is apologize to the survivors of my crime. And I am an advocate for them as well. I’m taking this opportunity to apologize for everyone who wants to say ‘I’m sorry’ and apologize to all the survivors and victims of crime.
TH: That’s a good thing to do right there. Can’t forget about those affected by our crimes. Moving along, I saw you on the Kelly Clarkson Show on April 29 with one of your old-school prison buddies, Tobias Tubbs.
AT: He gave me a vision about spirituality that I never experienced before.
TH: Kelly Clarkson saw your relationship with Tubbs and she said, “I love your spirit, your energy and your stories. You are such a blessing.” I thought that was such a huge compliment from her. Any last words for those behind the wall that might see this interview?
AT: Yeah I do. Be humble and don’t let anybody stop you from fulfilling your goals and dreams.