Meet Your Tiger Hero

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Matt Iseman ‘93 MD / Baseball (& Ninja Warrior)


City, State / Workplace / Title

Los Angeles, CA / Hollywood / American Ninja Warrior TV personality and retired physician

Medical Specialty / Other Degrees (MBA/MPH, etc.)

Laughter / MD

What made you choose a career in healthcare?

I grew up surrounded by the healthcare profession.  My father was an incredible doctor – a world class specialist – and I wanted to be like him.  So it was a pretty easy decision to go to Med School.  But after my residency experience at the University of Colorado Hospital, when it came time to put my education to practice, I just knew it wasn’t my calling.  I was surrounded by so many inspiring people who have since gone on to change the world.  Real tiger heroes (even some lion ones too).  Not the ninja kind.

What is the focus of your work today?

Today my life is a far cry from practicing internal medicine like I had trained.  It’s impossible to deeply reflect on my work in the entertainment industry in light of the horrors of this past year and the tragedies COVID has spread.  I have been so fortunate relative to many others who I know have struggled.  It’s cliché to suggest that “laughter may be the best medicine” during these times.  But I have constantly tried to park the TV personality and truly reset the conversation with those in need.  Sometimes providing a smile, a distraction of sorts to let the guard down – even if for a minute or two – makes me feel like I’ve helped.

How has your work changed in the face of COVID-19?

The Princeton student-athlete team atmosphere breeds character that stays with you forever… the same tenacity and spirit that serves one in the classroom, operating room, or television studio.

Matt Iseman

The forced change allowed me to step back and appreciate so many friends, colleagues, alumni, and even strangers who have sacrificed so much for other people’s safety and health during this pandemic.  They’ve become the new “reality” stars.

How did being a Princeton student-athlete prepare you for the challenges you’ve faced?

Two things come to mind.  First, the team atmosphere breeds character that stays with you forever.  As a pitcher the most satisfying Princeton memory I had was throwing a no hitter, not solo but with THREE other teammates combining for the honor.  We savor those memories and team victories together, even more so than the individual wins.  Second, the ability to gut-punch your way through adversity.  I remember when my roommate was half a hockey goalie at first but then became as solid as a fencepost, starting by season’s end.  A motivational lesson that I applied at the ballpark.  And frankly, the same tenacity and spirit that serves one in the classroom, operating room, or television studio.

What keeps you inspired as you look ahead?

Family, friends and the never-ending pursuit of the perfect game –on the golf course.

Medical School / Other Affiliations

Columbia University

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Matt Iseman
Matt Iseman
I'm the host of American Ninja Warrior and I'm squaring off against 15 other celebrities, all representing their favorite charities while vying for the title of “The Celebrity Apprentice.”
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