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Skip Bayless Said It Was Love at First Spark with Wife Ernestine Sclafani — inside Their Love Story

Manuela Cardiga
Sep 15, 2020
11:00 A.M.

Sports columnist, commentator, and television personality Skip Bayless revealed that he fell in love at first sight with his wife Ernestine Sclafani, after catching a brief glimpse of her backstage during a commercial break.

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Skip Bayless lives and breathes sports, and his wife Ernestine Sclafani is not a sports enthusiast by any stretch of the imagination, and yet they fell in love, married, and have a successful and happy marriage.

Sclafani even wrote a book in 2019 about her relationship with Bayless and how they fell in love: "Balls: How to keep your relationship alive when you live with a sports-obsessed guy."

Sclafani explained that for the first 10 years of their relationship she and Bayless had been living in different states

Skip Bayless at the Paley Prize Gala honoring ESPN's 35th anniversary in 2014 in New York City | Source: Getty Images

Skip Bayless at the Paley Prize Gala honoring ESPN's 35th anniversary in 2014 in New York City | Source: Getty Images

MEETING SKIP BAYLESS

Back in 2005, Ernestine Sclafani was working for a prestigious PR agency, and one of her clients, actor Kevin Dillon, was being interviewed by Skip Bayless on an ESPN show called "Cold Pizza." Sclafani was waiting in the green room for her client when Bayless ran by the door,

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He was taking advantage of a commercial break to fetch some notes from his dressing room, but one look at Sclafani stopped him dead in his tracks -- at least long enough to mumble an introduction and get her card, then he was off again. The entire first meeting took seconds, but Bayless fell in love.

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PRIORITIES

To Sclafani's surprise, Bayless followed up their brief meeting with a phone call, and the two agreed to meet for a date. The date sealed the deal for Bayless, but it would be 11 years before they were finally married, after a protracted 6-year engagement. Bayless revealed that he was upfront with Sclafani on that first date. He said to her:

“My job is my first priority. You will never be more important than my job for me.”

A lot of women would have walked away, but not Sclafani. She was undaunted by Bayless' statement or his punishing lifestyle. There isn't much room left for a love life when you have to wake up at 3 am every weekday like Bayless does -- and on the weekend he watches sports obsessively.

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ENGAGEMENT

Somehow Sclafani managed to make room for herself in his life, but she admits it wasn't easy. Sclafani loved movies, theater, and going to concerts, but she learned to watch spots so she could spend time with Bayless. Five years later they were still together and still going strong, and that was when Bayless proposed. He said to Sclafani:

"We've been together for five years, and I love you, and there’s nobody else in this entire world I would like to spend the rest of my life with. If you feel the same way about me, then why don’t we get engaged?”

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They did, but getting married was trickier. Sclafani explained that for the first 10 years of their relationship she and Bayless had been living in different states. Sclafani lived and worked in New York City, and during the week Bayless was in Connecticut, New England, commuting over the weekend to be with her.

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LOVE AND LOS ANGELES

Their circumstances changed when Bayless was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and work for Fox Sports. The couple spoke about moving to California together, and decided to finally get married. And they did it all alone, in secret without telling their friends or family. They just went to court together, the judge nominated the bailiff as the best man and his staff as witnesses.

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The wedding was on July 28, 2016, and three days later Bayless and Sclafani were in Los Angeles, starting their new married life. Living together full-time after 10 years together was a huge adjustment, reconciling their lifestyles over more than just a weekend. But they managed it, Sclafani reveals in her book, through compromise.

Bayless has his own "secret," Sclafani explains. He never reacts to anything before 24 hours have passed and he has had time to cool down and reflect on it. Bayless credits Sclafani with "giving me a life," and the couple often watch movies together, enjoy music and long walks -- in between the sports games!

Bayless, who grew up in a dysfunctional home with two alcoholic parents cherishes Sclafani's feisty nature, and humor and the quiet stability she brings into his hectic life.

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