Stephen A. Smith

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Stephen A. Smith
Stephen A Smith cropped.jpg
Born Stephen Anthony Smith
(1967-10-14) October 14, 1967 (age 47)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Residence Cherry Hill, New Jersey, U.S.
Education Winston-Salem State University
Occupation Television personality, host, radio host, former sports journalist

Stephen Anthony (A.) Smith[1] (born October 14, 1967), more commonly known as Stephen A., is an American television personality, host, radio host, and former sports journalist. Smith is a commentator on ESPN First Take, where he appears with Skip Bayless and Cari Champion. Smith formerly hosted The Stephen A. Smith and Ryan Ruocco Show on ESPN Radio New York 98.7 FM and is a featured columnist for

Smith gained fame for being the first major NBA journalist to predict that LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh would all sign with the Miami Heat during 2010 free agency.[2]

Early years[edit]

Smith was born Stephen Anthony Smith in New York City, New York on October 14, 1967. He was raised in the Hollis section of Queens.[3] Smith is the second youngest of six children.[1][4] He has four older sisters and a younger brother named Basil, who died in a car accident in October 1992. He also has a half brother on his father's side. Smith's parents were originally from Saint Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, and his father managed a hardware store. Smith graduated from Thomas Edison High School in Queens.[5]

After attending the Fashion Institute of Technology for two years, Smith received a basketball scholarship to attend Winston-Salem State University, a historically black university in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. While in college, he played basketball under Hall of Fame coach Clarence Gaines. While still on the team, Smith wrote a column for the university newspaper, The News Argus, arguing Gaines should retire due to health issues.[6] He is a member of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity.


Print media[edit]

Smith began his print media career with the Winston-Salem Journal, the Greensboro News and Record and the New York Daily News.

Since 1994, Smith has had a position as a writer for The Philadelphia Inquirer. He began reporting on the Philadelphia 76ers as their NBA columnist, and eventually, as a general sports columnist. On August 23, 2007, the Inquirer announced that Smith would no longer be writing columns and would instead be demoted back to the position of general assignment reporter. In 2008, the Inquirer ended its relationship with Smith, which coincided with Smith starting his own blog, In February 2010, Smith returned to the Philadelphia Inquirer after winning an arbitrator's ruling that he was to be reinstated, but having to agree to remove all of his political views from his website and from cable news shows.[7]


On April 11, 2005, Smith became the host of a weekday noon to 2 p.m. radio show on WEPN in New York City with his "right-hand man B.T. (Brandon Tierney)". On September 20, 2007, his radio show was shifted to the 2 p.m. – 4 p.m. slot, with the second hour being broadcast nationally on ESPN Radio, replacing The Dan Patrick Show (Mike Tirico took over the first two hours). The show came to an end in April 2008 as Smith sought to expand his career in television, and beginning May 1 Scott Van Pelt began hosting in the 3–4 p.m. hour that was previously Smith's.

In November 2009, Smith became an on-air contributor to Fox Sports Radio, and was the one who broke the story of Allen Iverson's retirement on the Chris Myers-Steve Hartman afternoon show on November 25. Iverson later ended his short retirement, and re-joined the Philadelphia 76ers on December 2.

Smith became a Fox Sports Radio morning show host on January 4, 2010, replacing Washington, D.C.-based host Steve Czaban. Smith can also be heard from time to time as a caller to the Mark Levin and Sean Hannity radio shows.

In early 2011, Smith became a resident FSR NBA insider and ended his morning show, which was replaced by the Indianapolis-based Zakk and Jack show.

It was announced on February 1, 2011, that he would be returning to ESPN as a columnist for and host weekday local radio shows on 1050 ESPN Radio New York (WEPN-AM) at 7–9 p.m. ET as well as 710 ESPN Radio Los Angeles (KSPN-AM) at 6–8 p.m. PT. April 24, 2012 was Smith's last show for LA 710 ESPN.[8]

It has been reported in an article written by Bob Raissman of the NY Daily News that Smith would leave ESPN 98.7 NY and could be headed to Sirius XM Radio, where he would join Chris Russo's Mad Dog Channel. This report comes a day after Smith made some controversial comments on ESPN 2's First Take regarding the Ray Rice situation.[9]


Smith started his television career on the now-defunct cable network CNN/SI in 1999.

Smith is currently an analyst and talk show host on ESPN and ESPN First Take. In August 2005, he started hosting a daily hour-long show on ESPN called Quite Frankly with Stephen A. Smith. After the show was cancelled due to comments Smith made about the recent MVP voting that were deemed racist in January 2007, he mainly concentrated on basketball, serving as an NBA analyst.

Smith is known for provocative analysis and dour delivery. He is also known for his "encyclopedic" and "thesaurus like " vocabulary. Smith has appeared on other ESPN shows as well, including the reality series Dream Job, as well as serving as a frequent guest (and guest host) on Pardon the Interruption, Jim Rome is Burning and as a popular participant on 1st and 10 . He has appeared as an anchor on the Sunday morning edition of SportsCenter, but on April 17, 2009 announced on his website that he would be leaving ESPN on May 1, 2009. The Los Angeles Times reported that ESPN commented that, "We decided to move in different directions."[10] Though according to Big Lead Sports a source says that ESPN and Smith went to the negotiating table and couldn’t reach an agreement.[11] Apparently, ESPN’s offer was considerably lower than Smith’s previous contracts – which were multi-media faceted – and Smith passed. He was then offered the decision to work through the remainder of his contract, or walk away and still get paid, and a source says Smith decided to work. Since then, Smith has returned to ESPN.

It was announced April 30, 2012 on air that Smith would be joining First Take on a permanent, five-day-per-week basis under a new format for the show called "Embrace Debate" in which he squares off against longtime "First Take" commentator Skip Bayless.

On March 4, 2013, when asked to compare the Miami Heat's 14-game win streak to the Chicago Blackhawks' then-current point streak, Smith remarked, "I don't even know why this is a question. Of course it's the Miami Heat," further saying, "Excuse me, when it was 21 games it was really an eight-game streak. There are three ties. I'm sorry, that doesn't count. I'm not in to the tie business. This isn't soccer... I'm sorry, I'm not buying it." Controversy followed Smith's comments, especially since the National Hockey League had not employed a tie system since the end of the 2003–04 NHL season, abandoning it in favor of the shootout following the 2004–05 NHL lockout.

On July 25, 2014, Smith made controversial remarks that women may provoke domestic abuse on ESPN2's show ESPN First Take, in regards to the ongoing situation involving Baltimore Ravens' running back Ray Rice and his wife.[12] After criticism of the remarks, including comments on Twitter from ESPN reporter Michelle Beadle, Smith apologized for his words on a taped segment on ESPN. On July 29, 2014, Smith was suspended by ESPN for a week and did not appear on any of their programs again until August 6, 2014.[13]

In late 2014 Smith signed a multi-year deal with ESPN that will pay him over $3 million per year.[14]

In a March 9, 2015 episode of First Take, Smith made another controversial remark. While discussing the topic of Philadelphia Eagles' head coach Chip Kelly trading away running back LeSean McCoy to the Buffalo Bills for linebacker Kiko Alonso, Smith said: "Chip Kelly makes decisions over the last couple of years that, dare I say, leave a few brothers feeling uncomfortable." Many people believed that Smith was hinting at the fact that Kelly's roster moves regarding the 2014 release of wide receiver DeSean Jackson (rumored to be released for having alleged ties with Los Angeles street gangs), the McCoy trade and letting wide receiver Jeremy Maclin depart for free agency to sign with the Kansas City Chiefs, while still keeping wide receiver Riley Cooper (who's white and known for his racial remark incident at the Kenny Chesney concert) on the Eagles' roster to be racially motivated.[15] Despite productive seasons from Jackson and McCoy in Kelly's current stint as Eagles head coach, it was rumored that Jackson and McCoy did not get along well with the head coach, which has had led to their departures. In an interview with ESPN the Magazine that was published on May 8, 2015, McCoy admitted that while he respected Kelly as a head coach, he did not see eye to eye with him. McCoy also believed that some of the roster moves that are being made by Kelly are racially motivated.[16] Kelly has said that the roster moves that he has made have nothing to do with race, it has to do with finding the right players that fit well into his team.[17] Smith defended his commnents by saying that he never used a form of the word racism to imply that Kelly was a racist.[18] Although Smith defended his comments, he was met with criticism since fans and other reporters pointed out the fact that Kelly signed free agent African American players DeMarco Murray from the Dallas Cowboys and Byron Maxwell from the Seattle Seahawks to multi-year contracts to play for his team.

In an April 22, 2015 episode of First Take, Smith criticized New England Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady for not attending the White House ceremony being held for the Patriots as they were being celebrated for their Super Bowl XLIX victory. According to reports, Brady could not attend the White House ceremony because of a prior family commitment. Brady was with his family as his parents were celebrating their 46th wedding anniversary. Smith and other people have speculated that Brady chose not to attend due to political reasons. Other rumored reasons as to why Brady chose not to attend the ceremony may have been because of a negative comment made by White House press secretary Josh Earnest towards Brady.[19] While others seemed to agree with Smith's criticism of Brady not attending the ceremony, Smith once again was met with criticism.

On June 11, 2015, Smith again received criticism, this time for a comment he made about female soccer players during the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup. While on SportsCenter, a replay was shown of a goal scored by Norway on a free kick against Germany. Tim Legler pointed out that the German players forming the wall turned their heads as the ball went by, and Smith joked that the players "might not had wanted to mess their hair". Smith's comment was criticized as being sexist and a poor joke. ESPN said they spoke with Smith about the comment, and he later apologized in a series of tweets.[20]

Acting career[edit]

Smith made his acting debut in a cameo appearance as a television reporter on the February 2, 2007 episode on the ABC soap opera General Hospital. Later that year, he appeared in the Chris Rock motion picture I Think I Love My Wife.

Beginning in 2014, he has appeared in a series of Oberto all-natural beef jerky commercials as "The Little Voice in Your Stomach," each time appearing alongside sports figures, such as star athletes Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman and pro snowboarder Louie Vito, and notable basketball sportscaster Dick "Dickie V" Vitale.


  1. ^ a b Greenfield, Karl Taro (August 1, 2005), "Stephen A., As In . . .", Sports Illustrated 103 (4), archived from the original on September 15, 2013 
  2. ^ LeBron James Picks Miami: Stephen A. Smith Was Right – Speakeasy – WSJ. (July 8, 2010). Retrieved on July 26, 2014.
  3. ^ Britell, Alexander (October 8, 2012). "For ESPN’s Stephen A Smith, Finding a Sanctuary in St Thomas". Caribbean Journal. Retrieved September 15, 2013. 
  4. ^ Mizell, Gina (June 18, 2012). "Interview with ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith–the long version". The Oklahoman. Retrieved September 15, 2013. 
  5. ^ "Stephen X". Philadelphia Magazine. December 2004. Retrieved September 15, 2013. 
  6. ^ Richard Sandomir, ESPN's New Master of the Offensive Foul, The New York Times, July 31, 2005, Accessed January 22, 2009.
  7. ^ Stephen A. Smith in Inquirer After 2-Year Feud | The Maynard Institute. (February 8, 2010). Retrieved on December 22, 2011.
  8. ^ Stephen A. Smith is reportedly close to new deal to return to ESPN. NY Daily News (January 26, 2011) Retrieved February 10, 2012
  9. ^
  10. ^ Stephen A. Smith is leaving ESPN – (April 17, 2009). Retrieved on December 22, 2011.
  11. ^ Enjoy Stephen A. Smith While You Can – He’s Got About Six Three Weeks Left at ESPN. The Big Lead (April 16, 2009). Retrieved on December 22, 2011.
  12. ^ The Huffington Post
  13. ^ Mandell, Nina (29 July 2014). "Stephen A. Smith won't be on ESPN for a week after controversial comments". USA Today. Retrieved 29 July 2014. 
  14. ^ turner, gus. "ESPN stephan a smith agree to new contract". Retrieved 23 January 2015. 
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