Jim Ross is one of the greatest wrestling commentators of all time. He has been working in the world of wrestling for more than four decades and attained global fame for his one-of-a-kind commentary in WWE matches. From Smackdown to Wrestle Mania, SummerSlam, and Raw, Ross’ voice defined some of the greatest matches in the organization’s history.
Not only is his voice seared into the annals of WWE history, but he has also recorded multiple achievements. In all, it has been a fulfilling professional life for Jim, can that be said about his family life?
Jim Ross Is a Wrestling Icon with Over Four Decades in the Industry
There are so many accomplishments in Jim Ross’ professional life, but none can match the greatness that comes from his longevity as a commentator. In an industry full of competition, bad contracts, and internal conflicts, Jim, having faced his share, has lasted more than 40 years, calling the play-by-play.
He began his pro-wrestling career while he was in college in 1974. At the time, he worked as a commentator on college radio, and his background experience helped him secure a position as an announcer for NWA Tri-State wrestling promotion. Although he initially filled-in for an absent announcer, Jim eventually joined NWA Tri-State, but as a referee.
He did not become an announcer until 1977 when he transitioned to the promotion’s broadcast team. Although he took up occasional roles as an in-ring interviewer, Jim Ross went on to work as a commentator for decades, spending most of his career with the WWE. Jim spent the first decade at NWA Tri-State which later became Mid-South Wrestling. After Mid-South, now Universal Wrestling Federation, he spent another six years at JCP. At JCP/WCW, Ross became head of broadcasting before leaving the promotion in 1993.
His iconic career is most defined by his time at the WWF/WWE. It began in 1993 and he made his onscreen debut at WrestleMania IX. Although the first year of his WWE career was contentious (he repeatedly clashed with Vince McMahon), he went on to spend 22 years working for the brand, from 1993 to February 1994 and December 1994 to 2013.
He Hosted Multiple WWF/WWE Programs
At the World Wrestling Federation/Entertainment, Jim Ross cemented his legacy as one of the greatest commentators of his generation. He hosted several WWF programs like Action Zone, Superstars, Raw Is War, and Shotgun Saturday Night. More than a commentator, he was regularly involved in the promotion’s storylines, with the veteran commentator often playing the heel.
In addition to hosting and calling the play-by-play on WWE brands like Raw and Smackdown, he also served as Executive Vice President of Talent Relationships, leaving the position in 2005. Also, towards the end of his WWE career, he worked as a coach for new announcers at the WWE Performance Center.
He temporarily left the WWE in 2013 and worked for other promotions like New Japan Pro-Wrestling between 2015 and 2018. Jim Ross returned to the WWE in 2017 and spent an additional two years, bringing his total years at the brand to 22 years.
Away from wrestling, he called his first non-wrestling match in 1992 when he spent one season as a commentator on the Atlanta Falcons radio broadcasts. Over the years, he has commentated on other sports like the XFL. He worked as a color and play-by-play commentator for the regional broadcast of the professional football league. Jim Ross has also called a boxing match and commentated on a Battlegrounds MMA fight. He achieved both milestones in 2014.
Jim Is Also a Published Author and Actor
As a man with over four decades of experience in his professional life, Jim Ross has leveraged it to attain other feats like publishing his autobiographical book titled Slobberknocker in 2017. The book which detailed his career experiences sold millions of copies. He released another, Under the Black Hat, co-written with Paul O’Brien in 2020.
He has also appeared in films like Lovers Lane, Man on the Moon, and What Now. In the first two, he played a commentator. Ross has provided the voice for several WWE video games. He’s a playable character in a few of them.
In 2014, Jim appeared in the documentary, Brian and the Boz. In 2017, he appeared in ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentary series about colleague and friend, Ric Flair.
Induction Into the WWE Hall of Fame and Other Prestigious Award
Over four decades, Jim Ross has been the recipient of several awards for his performance as a commentator. He received the first of 15 Best Television Announcer Award from Wrestling Observer Newsletter in 1988. He went on to win the award five consecutive times, before returning to the podium again in 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2001. His last Best Television Announcer Award came in 2012.
His award plaques include Stanley Weston Award in 2002 and the Slammy Awards in 2011. In recognition of his contribution to wrestling, he has received six Hall of Fame/Lifetime Achievement awards.
He got inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2007 and the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame in 1999. Other coveted awards he has received include the Art Abrams Lifetime Achievement Award and Lou Thesz Award in 2010 and 2011, respectively.
The Wrestling Commentator Was Married to Jan Ross for 24 Years
Jim Ross met his late wife Jan Ross on an airplane where she was serving as a flight attendant. Jan Grillette was born in 1972 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She was a fan of American football and like a true native, supported the Pittsburgh Steelers. Ross’ wife worked as a flight attendant for 13 years.
After they met, Jim Ross and Jan went on to tie the knot in 1993. They were married for 24 years until March 23, 2017, when she died after an accident. While returning home from the gym in a Vespa, she got hit by a 2000 Mercury Grand Marquis. Both vehicles caught fire and she was rushed to Oklahoma City’s OU Medical Center where doctors found she had sustained multiple fractures to her skull.
Although she was on life support, the injuries proved too fatal, and she died two days after the accident. News of her passing drew condolences from fans and friends of the legendary commentator.
— Jim Ross (@JRsBBQ) May 27, 2017
The couple never had any child. Jan was, however, a stepmother to Jim’s two daughters, Kasi and Amanda, from previous relationships.
What We Know About the Family He Hails From
He was born on January 3, 1952, in Fort Bragg, California to parents that much isn’t known about. Nonetheless, it is known that his mother died sometime in 1998.
His maternal grandparents owned a general store in Westville, Oklahoma and so did his paternal grandparents. It is said that his paternal grandfather owned an off-sale beer store and he was also a carpenter.
While Jim Ross appears to have grown in a humble family, his teenage years were quite impressive. Presumably, he grew up in Oklahoma close to his maternal grandparents as he attended Westville High School.
Brush with Death and Sexist Comment about Anna Jay
On January 21, 2012, the world of wrestling came close to losing the WWE icon. He was involved in a car accident that totaled his vehicle after a head-on collision with a pickup truck.
Thankfully, Jim Ross was wearing his seat belt, and his airbag performed as intended. He tweeted news of the accident and to the relief of everyone, admitted he is okay.
Eight years later, his mouth landed him in another trouble. During his play-by-play commentary for a match in American Elite Wrestling in September 2020, he made a lewd comment about Anna Jay.
While the wrestler was adjusting her top, the wrestling icon asked, ‘did Anna Jay have a wardrobe malfunction or is that wishful thinking in my book?’. The comment received backlash on social media and other platforms, with many asking for the termination of his contract.
Jim Ross – "Did Anna Jay have a wardrobe malfunction, or is that wishful thinking in my book?"
— Chris Deez (@PWCDeez) September 6, 2020
Jim later offered a half-hearted apology on Twitter. In the now-deleted tweet, he claimed he did not mean to offend anyone with the line and stressed it was a poor attempt at humor. His apology was not well-received.
Jim Ross Has Been Battling Bell’s Palsy
About two years into his career as a commentator, Jim Ross suffered his first case of Bell’s Palsy on January 30, 1994. At the time, he had begun his career with WWE and during a September 1996 episode of Raw, he suggested it caused his dismissal from the organization on February 11, 1994.
Although Jim never got fired over the condition again, he did battle with it over the rest of his WWE career and missed several appearances. He had another attack towards the end of 1998 while broadcasting at a London event, forcing him to take a break from Raw Is War for three months. On the same day, he had received the news of his mother’s death.
Between 1998 and 2014, he suffered at least two additional incidents of the medical condition. The last bout reportedly led to his final exit from the WWE. As claimed, he was intoxicated at an August 16, 2013 event while hosting the WWE 2k14 roster announcement. At the event, Ross used a lot of profanity and infamously allowed Ric Flair, a member of the guest panel, to make a lot of uncontrolled off-color remarks.
Jim Ross left the organization shortly afterward on September 11, 2013. Although the initial report suggested he had retired, he was apparently fired for hosting the event drunk and insulting a sponsor. However, in an interview in 2014, the WWE icon revealed he had been fatigued due to Bell’s palsy, which made him appear drunk.
Although Out of the WWE, He is Still Active in the Business
Since leaving in March 2019, the wrestling veteran has continued working. He works for All Elite Wrestling after signing a three-year deal with the promotion on April 3, 2019. Aside from being a commentator for the organization, he also serves as a senior advisor.
Jim Ross also makes appearances on the independent circuit. Since 2016, he has provided commentary for promotions like What Culture Pro Wrestling and World of Sport Wrestling. He also has a podcast, Grilling JR, where he shares insights into the world of wrestling and discusses the latest news in the sport.