Dan and David Le Batard: Cultural Ambassadors

Dan and David Le Batard never lose perspective on who they are and where they've come from.
Dan and David Le Batard never lose perspective on who they are and where they've come from.
Photo by Stian Roenning

In this week's Miami New Times, we profile 30 of the most interesting characters in town, with portraits of each from photographer Stian Roenning. See the entire Miami New Times People Issue here.

Lebo, the painter and cartoonist, stares out into the cloudless, azure sky through oversize shades, a Cheshire Cat grin creeping across his stubbled face. "I'm a pimp for myself," he declares after older brother Dan ribs him about the many corporate sponsors -- Google, Microsoft, Red Bull -- the artist has signed deals with. "Total sell-out prostitute!"

Everything you need to know about the Marx Brothers-like dynamic between sportswriter and radio host Dan Le Batard and his younger artist brother David, AKA Lebo, is found in a childhood photograph that shows Dan inexplicably wearing an eye patch and David wielding a stick. The image encapsulates the two goofballs who would grow up to change the cultural landscape of Miami through art and media.

Like all brothers, the Odd Couple aspect of the quieter one and the wilder one emerges. Dan, 45, was always the more reticent sibling. David, 41, was the rowdy one. And even now, as adults, those roles are evident.

"I was the responsible one," Dan says. "He's the one always unafraid to push boundaries. My mother was always afraid he would set himself on fire pretending to be a stuntman."

"And that was just last week," Lebo chimes in.

Lebo, whose signature style is splashed everywhere from the hull of the Norwegian cruise ship Getaway to a massive mural at NE 15th Street and Biscayne Boulevard, credits his older brother for much of his success. "What I do was made easier when I saw my brother doing something incredibly difficult and creative," he says.

That difficult and creative thing Dan did was build himself into the preeminent voice of the South Florida sports fan. Whether through his columns in the Miami Herald or his daily sports talk show on ESPN Radio, Dan Le Batard has become the face of all things Miami sports.

"I started the high-school newspaper as a gag just to make fun of my athlete buddies," he says, a tattered ball cap tucked over his eyes. "People kept telling me I was good at it, so I kept with it."

Dan rose to prominence with his abstract view of athletes and the world of sports at large. His voice was so singular and impressive that ESPN built him a radio and television studio inside the Clevelander on South Beach.

In a moment of reflection, Dan runs a hand across his gray-flecked beard and says, "I wanted to bow my head weeping when they built the studio. I always wanted something that was uniquely Miami, so for ESPN to put their headquarters specifically here, you know, it's a destination. And what I'm proudest of is sort of humanizing the entertainers and just having a combination of empathy and reverence instead of just standing on high and being judgmental of what we're watching."

In their quieter moments, the brothers, born to Cuban-immigrant parents, never lose perspective on who they are and where they've come from. Each is not only proud of the other's success but also feeds off it. "My brother has always been great at encouraging me," Lebo says.

"I don't enjoy anyone's company like I enjoy my brother's company," Dan adds. "He's my best friend."

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