ESPN Host Malika Andrews’ Secret Weapon Is Her Memory — & Her Well-Stocked Snack Drawer

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Welcome to Refinery29’s Why I Do It, a series where we ask inspirational, successful people 29 questions about what fuels them on and off the clock. Because, let’s face it: life is about so much more than chasing inbox zero.


At just 28, Malika Andrews is already an accomplished journalist. She’s an NBA reporter and the host of ESPN’s weekday NBA studio show, NBA Today, and also hosts Wednesday editions of ESPN’s NBA pregame show, NBA Countdown. Malika debuted as a sideline reporter during the 2019-2020 NBA season, when she became one of the youngest sideline reporters ever for a Conference Finals telecast. In 2022, she became the first woman to host the NBA Draft — and she’s not done yet. Here’s why she does it.

What’s the very first thing you do when you wake up? Groan at the alarm. And then I hope I remembered to set up the coffee machine the night before.

What’s the last thing you do before you go to bed? Scroll and read the day’s news and box scores [box scores include game scores as well as individual players’ stats from a game]. Eventually realize the time, say, Oh crap. I need to go to bed. And then keep going for another five minutes…

Power nap or power workout? Power workout.

Early bird or night owl? Neither, but if I had to pick one then night owl.

How many unread emails do you have in your inbox right now? 45,819…. oops.

Iced coffee or hot coffee? Hot. Scalding.

What’s your favorite thing that you keep on your desk or work space? To be honest, my desk is pretty bare — I spend more time in the newsroom with our show producers. But, I have a well-stocked snack drawer that Richard Jefferson — former NBA player and current ESPN sports analyst — often raids. And I enjoy that the closet I share with SportsCenter anchor Ashley Brewer is organized in a rainbow.

When was the last time you felt like a success? When a woman came up to me at Trader Joe’s and told me her daughter feels beautiful rocking her natural curls in part because I do on-air.

What do you do on those days when you don’t feel that confident? Put on a good playlist in the car and sing at the top of my lungs.

What’s one thing you do every day, without fail? Send memes to my sister.

What’s something you wish you did every day? Read a few more chapters of the book I’m reading. And ride horses.

What’s your favorite piece of advice that you’ve gotten? You’ll always be juggling, but decide which balls are glass and which are plastic — you can drop the plastic ones from time to time and life will go on.

What’s your least favorite piece of advice that you’ve gotten? Do people usually remember that? I’m drawing a blank.

Who inspires you the most? My grandmothers.

Who, if anyone, do you try to emulate? My mom’s kindness, and her baking. My aunt Sagra’s fashion, my aunt Durelle’s generosity, my dad’s fire… Robin Roberts’ command, Barbara Walters’ tenacity, Katie Couric’s sharpness, Elle Duncan’s flair, Laura Rutledge’s poise, Doris Burke’s preparation, Hoda Kotb’s joy. And my sister’s watch game.

What’s something people ask you for advice about often? Breaking into the journalism industry.

What’s a piece of advice you felt proud to give? I’m not sure about the advice I was proud to give, but I do feel proud every time I hear from a student who has asked me to read their work or review their TV reel when they get back in touch to tell me they’ve gotten a job or assignment they were working toward. That makes me proud.

What is your most-used app on your phone? My budgeting app: YNAB.

Where do you put your phone while you’re sleeping? You’re not supposed to sleep with it in your hand?

What do you do when you feel yourself burning out? Good question. I don’t have the perfect recipe. Some combination of watch Sex and the City, eat a sweet treat, take a nap, get a pep talk from a friend.

What’s something you consider a secret weapon? I have the memory of an elephant.

Where are you, compared to where you thought you’d be at 12 years old? I was struggling deeply with my self image and sense of belonging at 12. I wish I could go back and tell that young girl she will find her way.

If you could change one thing about your professional life, what would it be? I’m not sure about change, but I got my start as a writer, and that is a foundation I am proud of. I love writing the show every day, and it’s a different type of writing that challenges me. There are some days I miss writing print features. I always get excited to dig in and write a human interest story for NBA Today.

What’s been your biggest pieces of support, helping you get where you are? My family.

What do you do to start your workday? Talk to our coordinating producer, the fabulous Hilary Guy, and read our researcher, Matt Williams’, overnight email that is full of news, notes, and headlines.

What do you do to end your workday? Check my email.

What’s the last song you listened to? “Just Fine” by Mary J. Blige.

What’s the last photo in your favorites folder on your phone? A very unflattering selfie with my sister.

If you could go back and do one thing differently in your career path, what would it be? Worry less and forgive myself for not always having the answer.

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