Gary Smith (sportswriter)

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Gary Smith (2019)

Gary Smith (born October 27, 1953)[1] is an American sportswriter. He is best known for his lengthy human interest stories in Sports Illustrated, where he worked from 1983 to 2013.[2]


Smith worked as a sportswriter for the Wilmington News Journal, the Philadelphia Daily News, the New York Daily News, and Inside Sports before joining Sports Illustrated.[1] His writing has also appeared in Time, Rolling Stone, and Esquire.[3]

For many years, Smith's role as senior writer at Sports Illustrated has been to write four lengthy feature articles per year, most of which are in-depth personality profiles.[1][3] His wife, Sally, has described his motivation as follows: "He is not satisfied with putting facts together. He wants to understand what is the core conflict that has driven that person. He hopes to tell a secret that a person might not be aware of."[4] Several of Smith's subjects have attested to his profound insight.[5]

Smith has received many awards and honors for his work at Sports Illustrated. He won the National Magazine Award for non-fiction, the magazine equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize, a record four times and was a finalist for the award a record ten times.[2][5] His stories have appeared in The Best American Sports Writing series a record 12 times.[3] Some of his literary peers have called him "the best magazine writer in America"[4][6] and "America's best sportswriter".[6] He also has been cited as a role model by younger sportswriters.[7][8]


Smith has published two books; both are collections of his magazine features:

  • Beyond The Game: The Collected Sports Writing of Gary Smith, published in 2001.
  • Sports Illustrated: Going Deep: 20 Classic Sports Stories, published in 2008.


  1. ^ a b c Davis, Noah (September 17, 2008). "So What Do You Do, Gary Smith, Sports Illustrated Senior Writer?". Archived from the original on June 3, 2013.
  2. ^ a b Broome, Spencer (March 10, 2009). "The Athletic Standard: Sports Illustrated's Gary Smith of Charleston Profiles Big Game and Big Picture". Charleston Mercury. Archived from the original on January 18, 2013. Retrieved 2009-03-16.
  3. ^ a b c "Sports Illustrated's Gary Smith Named College Of Charleston Distinguished Communicator For 2006". Archived from the original on 2007-02-03. Retrieved 2007-02-04.
  4. ^ a b Jon Friedman (2008-04-25). "Meet America's best magazine writer". MarketWatch. Retrieved 2008-09-23.
  5. ^ a b Richard Perez-Pena (2008-09-15). "The Sports Whisperer, Probing Psychic Wounds". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-09-23.
  6. ^ a b Ben Yagoda (2003-06-30). "How Gary Smith became America's best sportswriter". Slate. Retrieved 2008-09-23.
  7. ^'s Scoop Jackson cites Smith as a role model
  8. ^ Baltimore Sun sportswriter Kevin Van Valkenburg cites Smith as his primary role model