How Michele Tafoya Overcame a Deadly Illness Where Her Weight Dropped to 80 Pounds

Michele Tafoya is one of the most recognizable reporters in all of sports and has been since 1994 when she made her network television debut at CBS. Tafoya has covered multiple Super Bowls and was part of the 2015 NFL Championship broadcast that remains the most-watched show in U.S. television history.

What makes Tafoya’s journey to the top of the world of sports and entertainment more impressive is what she endured and overcame to get there. Long before she was ever fighting against other reporters to get the latest scoop, she was battling one of the most deadly illnesses in America that no one truly understood at the time. Tafoya’s story is one of great triumph over what turns out to be tragic for so many others.

Michele Tafoya’s career before NBC

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After earning a business degree from USC in 1991, Michele Tafoya got her first job across the country as a drive-time host with WAQS in Charlotte, North Carolina. While there, she also became the first woman to call UNC-Charlotte men’s basketball games. 

Tafoya next shifted north and west and worked at KFAN in Minneapolis, where she served as a host and reporter covering the Minnesota Vikings and University of Minnesota women’s basketball teams. She stayed in Minnesota, where she still lives today, and moved into television at WCCO-TV and worked as a sports anchor and reporter.

In 1994, Michele Tafoya joined CBS Sports. It was the beginning of her journey as a national reporter that also included getting a job at ESPN and ABC and working there for more than a decade, which included roaming the sidelines on Monday Night Football.

Michele Tafoya’s career at NBC

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Michele Tafoya joined NBC Sports in 2011, replacing Andrea Kremer as the sideline reporter for Sunday Night Football. It was a reunion with Al Michaels, who she had previously worked with on Monday Night Football at ABC.

Since joining the Peacock, Tafoya has worked the sidelines of three Super Bowls, her last in 2018 when the Philadelphia Eagles defeated the New England Patriots. She also stood on the sidelines for the Super Bowl in 2015, the four-point New England Patriots’ victory over the Seattle Seahawks that remains the most-watched show in U.S. television history.

For her work, Michele Tafoya has received numerous awards through the years, including an unprecedented three-time winner of the Sports Emmy for Outstanding Sports Personality – Sports Reporter. She’s also the only person nominated in all nine years of the award’s existence.

Endures a traumatic time as a teen dealing with anorexia

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Long before Michele Tafoya ever appeared on the most-watched television show in U.S. history, she had serious self-esteem issues in her formative years. According to Tafoya, it was the perfect storm working against her. 

She was the youngest of four kids, ultra-competitive, a perfectionist, and grew up in an environment where she couldn’t help but compare herself to others. By the time she was a teenager, it took her down a dark and very destructive path.  

“I was feeling a lot of peer pressure as a teenage girl growing up in Manhattan Beach, California, where all the cute, popular girls wore really great bikinis and tight jeans,” Tafoya said in an interview with iVillage.

“And I wound up being about 5-foot-5 and getting all the way down to 80 pounds, battling anorexia, and scaring the you know what out of my parents. I’m grateful that I lived through it because it was pretty bad.”

Michele tafoya

 

Tafoya’s mother, Wilma, said in a 2007 WCCO report, “it must have been 6 or 8 weeks into her starving herself.” Her daughter’s wake-up call came one day after a shower when she combed through her hair and large clumps fell out. She sought out her mom for help. 

Unfortunately, many don’t seek help and that’s why it’s the most fatal of the mental disorders and results in a 10 percent mortality rate according to the National Institutes of Mental Health.

Offers advice to others today

Michele Tafoya of NBC Sports
Michele Tafoya of NBC Sports | Photo by Kevin Reece/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Michele Tafoya overcame her anorexia to become one of the most successful sports reporters in the world. Today, she offers encouragement to others who might be experiencing something similar. 

“If you think you have an eating disorder — whether it’s anorexia or bulimia — don’t be afraid to ask for help just from your doctor. ‘How do I start? I know this is unhealthy. I know this is wrong. There’s gotta be a better, easier way to feel comfortable about myself.’ Just do it because you’d be surprised how many people are in the same boat with you. And you’ll find a lot of support.”

How to get help: In the U.S., contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration helpline at 1-800-662-4357.