Brad Pye, Jr., a trailblazing sports writer and broadcaster, passed away at his home in Los Angeles on July 5. Pye, who was recognized throughout the nation for his pioneering efforts on behalf of African American athletes, suffered from various health issues that contributed to his death at the age of 89.
Pye attained many “firsts” during his long career. His achievements include being the first recognized African American sportswriter in Southern California, the first Black administrator for the NFL Commissioner and the first African American public relations and scout for the Los Angeles/San Diego Chargers.
Also, he served nearly 30 years as the sports editor for the Los Angeles Sentinel. In this capacity, the newspaper won top awards from the National Newspaper Publishers Association for 10 consecutive years. In addition, Pye led the effort in the 1960s for African American journalists to be admitted to the press areas of professional sports teams.
In the civic arena, Pye was the first Black president of the L.A. Department of Recreation and Parks Board of Commissioners. He paved the way for the advancement of African-Americans to senior level positions within the department. In 2015, the City of Los Angeles named the gymnasium at Saint Andrews Recreation Center as the Brad Pye, Jr., Athletic Center.
He also served two terms as president of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission and eight years on the State Athletic Commission where he was twice elected as president. Athletes such as Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, Wilt Chamberlain, Warren Moon and James “Shack” Harris all considered Brad Pye, Jr., as an innovator and crusader for Black sports figures.
A native of Plain Dealing, Louisiana, Pye was born on June 11, 1931 and although he came from humble beginnings, he grew up to become an award-winning broadcaster. His sportscast, “Switch reels,” was heard throughout the Southland on radio stations KGFJ, KACE, KJLH and KDAY.
ng known for his groundbreaking news writing and broadcasting about the world of sports, especially his tireless efforts to publicize African American athletes, few are aware of Pye’s instrumental role in aiding thousands of residents as a top deputy to former County Supervisors Kenneth Hahn and Yvonne Braithwaite Burke as well as manager of the Health and Safety/Return to Work Section of the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS).
His career with L.A. County began in August 1987 as a deputy in Hahn’s Second District. Promoted to assistant chief deputy within three short months, Pye became a spokesperson for Hahn, and said, “I was his voice in ensuring that constituents were treated fairly and each complaint resolved in a timely manner.”
Pye was also still connected to sports, and he arranged for Hahn to attend various events and recognize athletes for their accomplishments. “Both Kenny and I had a special interest in high school sports,” said Pye. “So, when a team won the championship, they were treated to lunch with Supervisor Hahn.”
Recalling one of his most memorable moments, he said, “It was when Morningside High won the championship and basketball’s great, Lisa Leslie, was the first female to score 110 points in a single game. Naturally, we invited her to have lunch with Kenny.”
Pye worked briefly for Braithwaite Burke when she replaced Hahn as Supervisor and gained her support in creating the Aquatics Foundation, a free program that continues to exist today, helping youth to pursue their passion for swimming.
In 1993, Pye transferred to DCFS as a division chief. In this capacity, he has served as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Coordinator, managed the Disaster Services Section, and directed the Exams/Recruitment Section.
“In every assignment, I tried my best to implement procedures to improve life for employees, volunteers, the disabled and citizens of L.A. County,” he said.
After Pye retired from L.A. County in 2011, he wrote sports columns for several local newspapers. He reunited with the Sentinel in 2016 and for the next three years, his “National Sports Beat” column appeared every week.
Pye was a decades-long member of Brookins Community AME Church, now known as Brookins-Kirkland Community AME Church. He served many years on the Board of Trustees and in the early 2000s, his appointment was elevated to trustee emeritus. Pye was also active with the Men’s Ministry and a supporter of the Young People’s Department.
Brad Pye, Jr. was preceded in death by his wife, Eunice, and son, Brad III. His survivors include his daughters, Jan, Jenice and Jill; three grandchildren, four great grandchildren and many relatives and friends.
According to his family, a celebration of Pye’s life will be scheduled in the future.