“I love to write, and I love sports. I thought if I combine these two things, I will never work a day in my life,” says Jerry Brewer.
Jerry Brewer knew he would be a sportswriter early in life. He knew he wanted to be a writer at five years old and he decided to write about sports when he was about 15. After school, his family would often find him in their backyard playing baseball games by himself. He would swing the bat, run to bases, tally the scores and go inside to write the story of the game he just played. If the weather was bad, Jerry kept playing because that’s what the professionals would do.
“He had staff and the whole nine yards,” says Kyle Hightower. “We all thought he was crazy, but his games were laying the seeds to where he was going.”
Jerry Brewer and Kyle Hightower are two brothers from Paducah who have achieved notable journalistic careers. Jerry works for the Washington Post and Kyle works for the Associated Press in Boston. Both Jerry and Kyle launched the groundwork for their successful careers at a media class offered by Tilghman High School.
“I will never forget the day Thomas George, a sports writer came to talk to our class. He was a national NFL writer from Paducah. I never realized until that point that you could travel around the country and interview for the NFL. It opened up my eyes to the possibility of writing about sports,” says Jerry. Thomas George taught Jerry and Kyle “the way to excel in this profession is to do,” says Jerry.
Jerry took Thomas’ advice to heart. At the age of 16, Jerry launched his career as a journalist with an internship at the Paducah Sun. He answered phones, took box scores and wrote the fine print in the paper. Once he gained experience working for the local newspaper, he begged to write and report his own story. They agreed, making him one of the most experienced 18-year-olds by the time he became a college freshman at Western Kentucky University (WKU).
On his first day at WKU, Jerry joined the school newspaper. He wrote for his entire duration of college in addition to garnering more hands-on experience via internships, setting the groundwork to write for the nation’s most significant publications. After graduating from WKU, he launched his career at the Philadelphia Inquirer and then went on to work for the Orlando Sentinel, Seattle Times, and now the Washington Post.
“I’m specifically a sports columnist which means I give my opinion on the world of sports,” says Jerry. Jerry has covered prominent sporting events including four Olympic Games, the NCAA Men’s Final Four Championship, the Super Bowl, the MLB World Series, and looks forward to covering the Olympic Winter Games in Austria this year.
Some of the most recognizable athletes he has interviewed include NBA player Grant Hill, Tracy McGrady of the Orlando Magic, Jamal Crawford of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Seattle Seahawks’ coach, Pete Carroll.
“I love to write stories about people. Your story is your most valuable possession. When someone trusts me with delicate and personal information, it is my job to tell their story accurately and with compassion,” says Jerry.
Following in Jerry’s footsteps and admiration for writing stories is his younger brother, Kyle Hightower. “I was shocked he went into sports writing. I thought he would go into business or finance, but instead, he followed in my footsteps,” says Jerry.
“I couldn’t see myself crunching numbers for the rest of my life, and I was enamored by the idea of being a storyteller,” says Kyle. Kyle is almost four years younger than Jerry and has a career just as decorated as his big brother. Like Jerry, he took a media class at Tilghman High School and also became connected with Thomas George who enlightened him about the world of sports writing.
“It’s a mystery for us both where our journalistic skills came from, but we thought about it and realized our mom is a critical thinker and our dad is a big sports fan,” says Kyle.
Kyle also interned for the Paducah Sun and attended Western where he landed many internships to prepare him for a rewarding career as a journalist. Initially, he planned to take a semester off to begin searching for a job, but got a call from the Orlando Sentinel changed his plans. “I hustled my last semester of college and moved to Orlando shortly after graduation,” says Kyle.
During his time at the Orlando Sentinel, Kyle wrote about sports and hard news topics. He covered notable news such as the jury selection of the Casey Anthony trial and the George Zimmerman trial. “I leaned on my training to cover the Casey Anthony trial. It was an unfamiliar world, but I covered the twists and turns like any other story,” says Kyle. “It was an incredible experience as a professional to cover those high-profile trials.”
Some of Kyle’s favorite sporting events he has covered include the NBA finals, the NCAA finals, the Super Bowl, and he looks forward to covering the FIFA World Cup in Russian next year. He regularly writes about the Boston Celtics, Boston Red Socks, New England Patriots, and the Boston Marathon. Of all the stories he has written during his career, he deems a story about the Boston Marathon as his favorite.
He wrote about a formerly homeless police officer who beat his drug addiction and put his life back together. To commemorate his success, he ran in his first Boston Marathon last year. “There are so many incredible stories that come out of Boston,” says Kyle.
Jerry and Kyle rarely have the opportunity to cover stories together, but their paths crossed at last year’s Super Bowl. “I remember we were going through the security line the day of the game and I’m looking for Jerry. We happened to go through security at the same time and walked up to the stadium together. It was a perfect moment for us to symbolize how far our careers have come,” says Kyle.
Both agree their successful careers grew from their deep roots in Paducah. It was the people they saw every Sunday at church, classmates at school, mentors such as Thomas George and their parents who shaped them to become the people they are today.
“I don’t take it for granted. I never thought a boy from Paducah would be sitting in the press box of the Super Bowl. I am thankful for the journey I am on and the people along the way who helped me get to where I am today,” says Kyle.