From the Courts to Commentator
By Alison Weir Yablonsky
Sports anchor Otis Livingston’s face might be a familiar one to those who frequent our local tennis and basketball courts. Others who don’t recognize him from television might still see him at any one of four Maplewood-South Orange schools. As on TV, he has a brilliant smile and is quick to say hello. He chuckles when people tell him, “You’re not as big as you look on TV.”
Growing up in Los Angeles, he played sports, watched sports, and dreamed of a future in sports. A basketball scholarship led Livingston to Kansas University, where he played point guard for coach Larry Brown, a Hall of Famer. He transferred to the University of Idaho, where he starred as the Vandals’ All-Conference point guard and team captain. It’s also where he met his future wife, Nikki.
As a telecommunications major, Livingston spent many hours in the recording studios on campus and worked as a color commentator for the university. He developed his own public-access show, called “One on One with Otis Livingston.”
After the couple married and settled in Boise, Nikki’s stepmother (a news anchor at the time) secured Livingston an internship at the station. He spent hours taping segments, creating scripts and editing highlights for the weekend sports anchor. He built an impressive demo reel and began realizing a dream. From there his career path can best be described as direct, successful and swift. He and Nikki moved from Boise to Rockford, Illinois; then to Philadelphia and onto New York. Livingston was likeable, knowledgeable and a “team player” with his co-hosts on air.
Since March, he’s been on air at WCBS as the sports anchor evenings at 6 and 11 o’clock. He spends plenty of off-air time interviewing athletes and writing his segments. .
In between, he can be seen shuttling kids here and there like the rest of us. With five children in four schools and a variety of sports interests, it’s a busy schedule. Always with a cell phone, he’s often found at the Marshall Elementary School playground (where his youngest child, Marquis, is in the second grade), coordinating a pick-up with one child or another.
He still enjoys shooting hoops, now with his kids. He has never wanted to coach his kids’ athletic teams, preferring to watch their games from the sidelines. But he’s proud to have been the first basketball coach for all of his children. “I tell my kids, let people see your effort all the time and that will be recognized,” he says. His children play in competitive leagues in basketball, baseball and tennis. In fact, 17-year-old Alexandria is a top-ranked tennis player in New Jersey.
Outside of sports anchoring, Livingston co-hosts the annual gala for the Arthur Ashe Institute of Urban Health. He speaks at schools on career day and offers advice to any young person interested in his line of work.
“Use what you have to get what you want, ” Livingston says. “A basketball scholarship offered me the opportunity to get a good education and then to follow my dreams to anchoring.” He loves what he does and he plans to stay at it for a long while.
Alison W. Yablonsky is a South Orange resident. She is a personal trainer but worked in book publishing for more than twelve years prior to having children.