Jeanie Buss and daughter stand next to female and male college students with two laker cheerleaders at each end of group
(L-R) Laker Girl Jenny, Shannon Hearn, Kayla Hearn, Rachel Grode, Anthony Gharib, and Laker Girl Sammy, pose during the halftime of the Nov. 28 Lakers game. The Hearns presented the annual Chick Hearn Memorial Scholarship to Grode and Gharib. Photo by Areon Mobasher

Gharib and Grode honored as Chick Hearn Scholars during Lakers game

Anthony Gharib dreams of becoming the first Armenian-American national NBA reporter. His love for basketball began as a youth athlete, watching the Los Angeles Lakers.

“I would watch ESPN and was surprised to learn the reporters were either former athletes or studied journalism,” he said. “Realizing I wasn’t going to be a pro athlete, I thought the latter was the better route for me.” 

L.A. native Rachel Grode is no stranger to the athletic field. The four-year USC Song Girl and captain loves to perform and transferred to USC Annenberg from the School of Dramatic Arts because she wanted to explore new possibilities through sports journalism. 

“I love interacting with teams and the fans and as long as I'm with people, I'm happy,” Grode said. 

These two senior journalism majors are well on their way to turning their sports passions into their professions. In addition to their academic achievements in and out of the classroom, Gharib and Grode have earned the 2022 Chick Hearn Memorial Scholarship.

In remembrance of legendary Los Angeles sportscaster Francis Dale “Chick” Hearn, who broadcast more than 3,000 Lakers basketball games over 40 years until his death in 2002, the endowed scholarship was established the following year at USC Annenberg to recognize students with a demonstrated interest in pursuing a career in sports journalism. 

During halftime at the Nov. 29 NBA game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Indiana Pacers at the Arena, Gharib and Grode were honored in an on-court ceremony, where members of the Hearn family joined them.

“With this scholarship, I can reduce my working hours, pour more time and effort into my studies and be able to dedicate more effort toward interning and pursuing opportunities that are relevant to my future career,” Gharib said. “A lot of the work we do is kind of unpaid stuff in the beginning. You just want to get clips. This allows me to do so comfortably and not really worry about finances. I can just focus on getting the work done, getting better and getting as much experience as possible.”

Gharib, who transferred to USC from Glendale Community College, worked his way up to sports editor for the Daily Trojan before becoming a writer with Lakers Nation. Now, he is an ABC7 Los Angeles News sports intern and has been nominated for an Associated College Press Pacemaker award for Sports Feature of the Year. 

“To be in the position that I am, have access to the education that I have and gain the support of the Chick Hearn family means the world to me,” Grode said. “This scholarship is such a driving motivator to continue to work hard, put my best foot forward and do everything I can to really succeed and make the most out of my time as a student.”

Centering her academic work and professional development around the sports industry, Grode has worked in the media center for the past three years, anchored for Annenberg TV News, served as a Special Olympics volunteer, and participated in the Sports Maymester program. 

“I believe sport is a universal language,” Grode said. There is something to be said about the longstanding traditions of sports and how much heart is invested in this industry.” 

View more photos from the event.