Profile: Stephen A. Smith (1967-)

Stephen Anthony Smith is a sports commentator on ESPN. Alongside Max Kellerman, Smith is a featured commentator on ESPN’s First Take, a show reviewing daily sports news. Smith’s parents came from the United States Virgin Islands, and his dad was a baseball and basketball star in the 1950s.

Smith was born in the Bronx, New York on October 14, 1967. He was raised in Queens with five other siblings. He attended the Fashion Institute of Technology for one year and was then was granted a basketball scholarship to study at Winston-Salem State University, North Carolina, which he graduated from in 1991.  In college, he wrote for The New Argus and published an article saying that his basketball coach, Clarence Gaines, needed to retire. This article shocked a lot of people because Gaines was a revered figure at Winston-Salem State. The article, however, also revealed Smith as an aspiring journalist who was not afraid to express controversial views.

Upon graduation, Smith was hired by the Winston-Salem Journal and began writing as a clerk in the sports department. He later held reporter positions at the Greensboro News and Record and at the New York Daily News. But Smith spent the most part of his career as a reporter for the Philadelphia (Pennsylvania) Inquirer. He was hired there in 1994 and successively served as a NBA writer, a NBA columnist, and was eventually promoted in 2003 to the general sports columnist for the newspaper. That same year, Smith decided to join ESPN after the television broadcast network contacted him. In total, he spent more than 16 years working for the Philadelphia Inquirer. In 2010, he resumed his columnist activity for the newspaper.

Stephen A. Smith specializes in basketball reporting and analysis. Upon arrival at ESPN in 2003, he was an analyst for the NBA Shootaround pregame show (renamed NBA countdown). From 2005 to 2007, he hosted ESPN’s Quite Frankly With Stephen A. Smith. In 2014, he started his own daily show, The Stephen A. Smith Show. It was first aired in New York and Los Angeles, California. Since January 2018, it is broadcast nation-wide. Smith has also been featured in a morning show on Fox Radio Sports. He’s mainly known for his contribution to ESPN’s First Take which he joined permanently in 2012. He’s been the host of the show ever since, debating with Skip Bayless, until the latter left in 2016. Now he debates Max Kellerman.

Often quoted for his frankness, Smith has been involved in several controversies. For example, he was suspended one week in 2014 for displaced on-air comments on domestic violence.

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