Broadcaster? Owner? Mo’ne Davis has big dreams for next steps

March 11th, 2024

Very few people become world famous at age 13, with their image forever frozen in the public eye. For Mo’ne Davis, that was exactly what happened.

Ten years after she became the first girl to win a game (and throw a shutout) in the Little League World Series, she’s a grad student at Columbia looking to do what many of her peers are doing: chart the course of the rest of her life.

Davis’ sports journey started in Philadelphia in the mid 2000s. She was a big fan of the 76ers, who made the NBA playoffs four out of five years from 2008-12, and rooted hard for the Phillies, who won the World Series in '08. While watching those juggernaut Phils, Davis gravitated toward second baseman Chase Utley, who quickly became her favorite baseball player.

As a child, Davis was gifted in multiple sports, including football (“I was throwing spirals for 30 yards”) and basketball (“I've always wanted to be a professional basketball player”). One day while playing football with her cousin and his friends after his baseball practice, a local youth sports coach, Steve Bandura, noticed the 7-year-old Davis holding her own. He invited her to join his all-boys basketball team, and later his baseball team.

From there, she honed in on her talents. It was clear that her strong throwing arm might be her calling card.

Mo'ne Davis (middle) speaks at a Jackie Robinson Museum panel. (Photo by Elizabeth Muratore)

“I couldn't hit the ball off the tee to save my life [when I started],” Davis said in a recent interview with “But I knew I had a good arm. So I knew that was going to be my strong suit. … And so I just kept practicing from there.”

That practice brought her to the Little League World Series, where she became, quite literally, an overnight sensation. On Aug. 15, 2014, Davis pitched a two-hit shutout to lead her club to victory, which came on the heels of the shutout she twirled to help her team advance to the LLWS. Though Davis’ club lost in the next round of the tournament, her star was born.

Over a whirlwind few days, Davis received congratulatory tweets from multiple MLB stars, including Andrew McCutchen and Mike Trout.

Davis then appeared on “The Tonight Show” and pitched against Jimmy Fallon. She was on the cover of Sports Illustrated and donated artifacts from her LLWS run to the Baseball Hall of Fame. And all before starting high school.

“I didn't expect any of that,” Davis said. “I don't think anyone expected that. It's hard to process when you're still in it. … Growing up, I always wanted to be a professional athlete. I always had that dream of having people recognize me [where I would] take pictures, talk to them, but I never pictured it to happen at such a young age.”

Though Davis is grateful for the platform the LLWS gave her, she now experiences the odd phenomenon of most people still thinking of her as a teenager, though she is now in her 20s.

Her focus now? Using her platform to launch into the next phase of her life and expand her reputation beyond her teenage identity.

“For it to still go on, and for people to come up to me and be like, ‘Hey, I remember you,’ [and] remember everything that I did, it is very strange,” Davis said. “It's weird because they still think I'm 13, 14. … So [I’m] trying to get people to really see me as the young adult that I am, and not still as that little teenager that I was.”

Over the past few years, Davis has worked toward a refreshed sports identity. She attended Hampton University on a softball scholarship and studied journalism. She has coached at MLB’s Trailblazer Series, a baseball tournament for girls held every April, in conjunction with Jackie Robinson weekend. To widen her skillset, Davis interned with the Dodgers last summer in video production, editing scoreboard clips and creating promotional videos for their social channels.

“I didn't want to see her at 35 years old, squeezing into her Little League jersey and signing autographs at card shows,” said Bandura, who coached Davis in three sports from age 7 through high school. “It's obvious now that she's not heading in that direction, and I look forward to seeing where her journey takes her.”

Last fall, Davis began a new chapter of her life in New York by starting a master’s program in sports management at Columbia University as an HBCU fellow. She sees a front-office role in her future and dreams of one day owning a professional women’s team in Philadelphia.

“Bringing a team there and showing [girls] this is a path you can go down, and this is something you can do as a career, that's really important to me,” she said at a recent panel at the Jackie Robinson Museum. “I didn't have the chance to go to a professional basketball game that shows nothing but women out there playing.

“[I want to] give back to a special place that has put me in a position to have those dreams and to know that they're achievable.”

Before becoming an owner, Davis knows she has a lot to learn. She is taking courses that will give her a broad foundation in sports management -- marketing is her favorite class so far -- and seeks to understand “the true role of an owner” beyond funding a club’s operations. On this front, Davis has sought inspiration from many prominent women in sports, citing Julie Uhrman, the president and co-founder of Angel City Football Club (a team in the National Women’s Soccer League), as a particular influence.

Davis also has big broadcasting plans. In the wake of her teenage rise to stardom, she has worked on ESPN as an analyst for the Little League World Series, done color commentary for the summer league DC Grays and partnered with MLB Network host and pro softball player A.J. Andrews on baseball and softball broadcasts.

These experiences have motivated Davis to pursue a broadcasting niche that centers on interviewing women athletes. Inspired by the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team, which Davis has closely followed for years, she wants her future media work to highlight the personalities of women athletes in all sports, humanize them to mainstream viewers and bring them squarely into the foreground of the sports landscape.

“I've always had a dream of having my own TV show, bringing out a different side of athletes that we don't get to see,” Davis said. “We always talk about how it's humans over highlights, and showing that these players are also human beings and they have a life outside of their own sport. So I kind of want to go in that area.”

Broadcaster. Aspiring owner. Role model. Grad student. Those titles all apply to Mo’ne Davis in 2024. Ten years after she burst into the public eye as a teenager, her career as an influential woman in sports has only just begun.