Stephen A. Smith

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Stephen A. Smith
Smith in 2020
Stephen Anthony Smith

(1967-10-14) October 14, 1967 (age 56)[1]
EducationWinston-Salem State University (BA)
  • Sports television personality
  • sports radio host
  • sports journalist
EmployerESPN Inc.
Basketball career
Career information
High schoolThomas A. Edison
(Queens, New York)
CollegeWinston-Salem (1987–1991)
PositionPoint guard / shooting guard

Stephen Anthony Smith (born October 14, 1967)[1][2][3] is an American sports television personality, sports radio host, and sports journalist. He makes frequent appearances as an NBA analyst for ESPN on SportsCenter, NBA Countdown, and the network's NBA broadcasts. He has also hosted The Stephen A. Smith Show on ESPN Radio and is a commentator on ESPN's First Take, where he appears with Molly Qerim. Smith is a featured columnist for ESPN and The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Early life and education

Stephen Anthony Smith was born in the Bronx, a borough of New York City. He was raised in the Hollis section of Queens.[4] Smith is the youngest of six children.[2][5] He has four older sisters and had an older brother, Basil, who died in a car accident in 1992. He also has a half-brother on his father's side. Smith's parents were originally from Saint Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. His father managed a hardware store. Smith's maternal grandmother was white, the rest of his grandparents black.[6] He graduated in 1986 from Thomas Edison High School in Queens.[7]

After attending the Fashion Institute of Technology for one year, Smith received a basketball scholarship to attend Winston-Salem State University, a historically black university in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. 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.[8] He is a member of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity. Smith graduated in 1991 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in mass communication.[9]


Print media

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

Beginning in 1994, Smith 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.[10]


Smith in 2009

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, the show was shifted to the 2-4 p.m. slot, with the second hour being broadcast nationally on ESPN Radio, replacing the third hour of The Dan Patrick Show (Mike Tirico took over the first two hours). Smith's show came to an end in April 2008 as he 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 broke the story of Allen Iverson's retirement on the Chris MyersSteve Hartman afternoon show on November 25. Iverson later ended his short retirement and rejoined 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. On his radio program, Smith correctly predicted that LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh would all sign with the Miami Heat during 2010 free agency.[11] In early 2011, Smith became a resident FSR NBA insider and ended his morning show.

It was announced on February 1, 2011, that Smith would be returning to ESPN as a columnist for and host for 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.[12]

Beginning in May 2012, as part of the ESPN New York move to 98.7 WRKS, Smith replaced Robin Lundberg alongside Ryan Ruocco and debuted the Stephen A. Smith & Ryan Ruocco Show[13] which ran from 1-3 p.m. ET on the new 98.7 WEPN.[14][15] Smith started each show with a signature pre-intro cold open "rant" on a topic that would be discussed in the first segment. The show came to an end in the summer of 2013, when Smith left ESPN for Sirius XM Radio, where he joined Chris Russo's Mad Dog Sports Channel. The move was announced just one day after Smith made some controversial comments on ESPN2's First Take program regarding the Ray Rice situation.[16]

On January 17, 2017, Smith moved from Sirius XM's Mad Dog Sports channel back to ESPN. His daily two-hour program is heard on WEPN in New York, KSPN in Los Angeles, Sirius XM's ESPN channel, and via syndication.[17]


Smith is currently one of the hosts of First Take on ESPN. He also appears as an analyst on various ESPN programs. He is known for provocative analysis and dour delivery.

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

In August 2005, Smith started hosting a daily hour-long show on ESPN called Quite Frankly with Stephen A. Smith. After the show was cancelled in January 2007, he mainly concentrated on basketball, serving as an NBA analyst. He also appeared on other ESPN shows, 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 participant on 1st and 10. He appeared as an anchor on the Sunday morning edition of SportsCenter. On April 17, 2009, Smith announced on his website that he would be leaving ESPN on May 1, 2009.[18] The Los Angeles Times reported that ESPN commented that, "We decided to move in different directions."[19] Though according to Big Lead Sports, a source says that ESPN and Smith went to the negotiating table and could not reach an agreement.[20]

Smith later returned to ESPN, and it was announced on April 30, 2012, on air that Smith would be joining First Take on a permanent, five-days-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 July 25, 2014, Smith made controversial remarks on First Take that women may provoke domestic abuse, in regards to the domestic violence situation involving Baltimore Ravens' running back Ray Rice and his wife.[21] 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.[22][23]

In late 2014, Smith signed a multi-year deal with ESPN that will pay him over $3 million per year.[24]

In a March 9, 2015, episode of First Take, 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 has made decisions over the last couple of years that, dare I say, leave a few brothers feeling uncomfortable." Michael David Smith of NBS Sports believed that Smith had hinted Kelly's roster moves regarding the 2014 release of wide receiver DeSean Jackson, 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 on the Eagles' roster might be racially motivated.[25] 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.[26] 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.[27] Smith defended his comments by saying that he never used a form of the word racism to imply that Kelly was a racist.[28]

On June 11, 2015, Smith received criticism 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 have wanted to mess up 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.[29]

On November 5, 2016, Smith joined Top Rank's broadcasting team for the Manny Pacquiao vs. Jessie Vargas boxing pay-per-view event.[30] In 2019, Smith became a UFC commentator as ESPN became the UFC's television broadcaster.

In 2020, Smith served as a commentator for the after-party coverage of the 92nd Academy Awards on ABC.[31]

On June 10, 2021, Smith broke into the soccer coverage space. (As he put it, "Let's do that soccer.") Smith selected a Euro2020 team and followed this up with another soccer segment called "Ain't No Way" on June 14, 2021.[32]


Smith made his acting debut on the ABC soap opera General Hospital in a cameo appearance as a television reporter on February 2, 2007.[33] Smith is a longtime fan of the show, as his older sisters watched it every day growing up.[34] Smith appeared as Brick on General Hospital on March 31, 2016,[35] and has made guest appearances in the role every year since.[36][37][38]

In 2007, Smith was in the Chris Rock film 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.

First Take profile


Smith is known for his frequent use of catchphrases while hosting First Take, such as "blasphemous" when describing something completely outrageous that does not make sense to him.[39] He also frequently refers to former Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers as a "baaaaaaaad man"[40] (with the "A" stretched out for several seconds). Smith has worn Rodgers' jersey on two occasions on First Take in 2017: once following the Dallas Cowboys' elimination at the hands of the Packers[41] and once during a special taping of First Take from Dallas where Smith received boos from the live crowd.[42]

Smith has been known to show a strong hatred towards the Cowboys, often at times mocking them with their "How 'Bout Them Cowboys?" slogan in a sarcastic manner, claiming that they are "an accident waiting to happen", and calling them "a damn disgrace".[43] A song was even made all about Smith's hatred of the Cowboys.[44] He has frequently mocked former Cowboys player and fellow First Take commentator Michael Irvin after losses,[43] as well as other past and present ESPN employees who are Cowboys fans such as Skip Bayless, Will Cain and Marcus Spears.

Knowledge about hockey

Smith has been known to say many times that he knows absolutely nothing about the sport of hockey, such as by saying that tie games still exist in the sport[45] (the NHL abolished ties following the 2004–05 NHL lockout), despite the presence of three hockey teams from within the New York metropolitan area where he was brought up. In recent years, and especially after ESPN acquired broadcasting rights for the NHL in the United States as of the 2021-2022 season, Smith would talk about hockey more often on both First Take and his new show Stephen A.’s World, such as when he roasted the Edmonton OilersConnor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl after they got swept by the Winnipeg Jets in the opening round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs[46] and equated the Toronto Maple Leafs’ playoff failures to that of the Dallas Cowboys’.[47] Smith would also have NHL defenseman P.K. Subban occasionally appear as a guest on both shows.

Opposition to recreational marijuana

Smith is known for his outspoken stance on athletes, in particular NFL players, and the recreational usage of marijuana (which, despite being legal in some US states, is prohibited by league policy and punishable by fine or suspension). On occasions when players are found to be involved with the drug, Smith may loudly tell them to "Stay off the weed!" Such NFL players include Stedman Bailey,[48] Adrian Peterson,[49] Josh Gordon,[50] Joseph Randle,[51] Randy Gregory,[52] Aldon Smith,[53] LeGarrette Blount,[54] Le'veon Bell, and Martavis Bryant.[55] NBA players whom Smith has criticized in relation to marijuana include Zach Randolph,[56] who was arrested for possession of marijuana with the intent to sell in August 2017, D'Angelo Russell, who was cited for marijuana possession inside his luggage at New York's LaGuardia Airport while flying to Louisville in May 2019,[57] and Alex Caruso, who was arrested in Texas for marijuana possession in June 2021.[58]

During the final seconds of the fourth quarter of Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals, Cleveland Cavaliers player J. R. Smith dribbled the ball out without attempting a shot, believing that his team was winning the game when in fact the score was tied. The Golden State Warriors subsequently defeated the Cavaliers in overtime. The next morning, Stephen A. Smith jokingly delivered his "Stay off the weed!" line at the request of the audience attending a live First Take taping in Oakland, implying that committing a blunder of J. R. Smith's magnitude would only be possible if the player was high at the time. The outburst garnered applause from the audience and his First Take co-hosts.[citation needed] The Warriors ultimately won the series in four games.

Personal life

In a December 11, 2019, interview with GQ, Smith disclosed that he has two daughters, aged 10 and 11 years old at the time. He was once engaged. When asked why he never went through with the marriage, he said: "It didn't work out. Matter of fact, I just told my sister that the other day: none of your business ... Something about my job and my money. I said this is not a discussion. You'll get an answer if I want to give you an answer."[59]

Smith is a fan of the New York Yankees, New York Knicks, and Pittsburgh Steelers.[60][61]



Year Title Role Notes ref
2007 I Think I Love My Wife Allan Romantic comedy film directed by and also starring Chris Rock [62]
2021 Rumble Marc Remy
2023 Creed III Himself


Year Title Role Notes ref
2007 General Hospital Reporter Cameo appearance [33]
2016–present Brick Recurring role [35]


  • 2023: Straight Shooter: A Memoir of Second Chances and First Takes ISBN 978-1982189495

See also


  1. ^ a b ESPN First Take. "SURPRISE! We got Stephen A. Smith on his birthday".
  2. ^ a b Greenfield, Karl Taro (August 1, 2005), "Stephen A., As In . . .", Sports Illustrated, vol. 103, no. 4, retrieved September 6, 2019
  3. ^ Sblendorio, Peter (June 26, 2019). "Stephen A. Smith Talks Career with Kay". The New York Daily News. p. 48. Among the highlights was Smith, 51, reflecting on his time doubling as a basketball player and student journalist at Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina.
  4. ^ Britell, Alexander (October 8, 2012). "For ESPN's Stephen A Smith, Finding a Sanctuary in St Thomas". Caribbean Journal. Retrieved September 15, 2013.
  5. ^ Mizell, Gina (June 18, 2012). "Interview with ESPN's Stephen A. Smith–the long version". The Oklahoman. Retrieved September 15, 2013.
  6. ^ "Cowboys: "Dak Prescott Connects To Team In Ways Tony Romo Cannot"". January 11, 2017. Archived from the original on August 24, 2020. Retrieved January 11, 2017 – via YouTube.
  7. ^ "Stephen X". Philadelphia Magazine. December 2004. Archived from the original on August 8, 2014. Retrieved September 15, 2013.
  8. ^ Richard Sandomir, ESPN's New Master of the Offensive Foul, The New York Times, July 31, 2005, Accessed January 22, 2009.
  9. ^ Dougherty, Jack (August 12, 2020). "Stephen A. Smith Seriously Likes His Chances Against Donald Trump and Joe Biden". Sportscasting | Pure Sports. Retrieved December 8, 2020.
  10. ^ Stephen A. Smith in Inquirer After 2-Year Feud | The Maynard Institute Archived February 11, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. (February 8, 2010). Retrieved on December 22, 2011.
  11. ^ LeBron James Picks Miami: Stephen A. Smith Was Right – Speakeasy – WSJ. (July 8, 2010). Retrieved on July 26, 2014.
  12. ^ Stephen A. Smith is reportedly close to new deal to return to ESPN. NY Daily News (January 26, 2011) Retrieved February 10, 2012
  13. ^ "Stephen A. Smith and Ryan Ruocco - ESPN New York".
  14. ^ "ESPN New York moving to 98.7 FM". April 26, 2012. Retrieved April 25, 2023.
  15. ^ "Iconic NY black radio station 98.7 KISS FM folds". April 26, 2012. Retrieved April 25, 2023.
  16. ^ "Raissman: Stephen A. Smith, fresh off rant on domestic violence, heading to Sirius". New York Daily News. July 26, 2014. Retrieved March 22, 2017.
  17. ^ January 4, 2017
  18. ^ "Goodbye ESPN!!! | The Official Site of Stephen A. Smith". April 20, 2009. Archived from the original on April 20, 2009. Retrieved October 15, 2019.
  19. ^ Stephen A. Smith is leaving ESPN – (April 17, 2009). Retrieved on December 22, 2011.
  20. ^ 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.
  21. ^ Grenoble, Ryan (July 25, 2014). "Stephen A Smith: Abuse Victims Should Learn 'About The Elements Of Provocation'". Retrieved March 22, 2017 – via Huff Post.
  22. ^ Mandell, Nina (July 29, 2014). "Stephen A. Smith won't be on ESPN for a week after controversial comments". USA Today. Retrieved July 29, 2014.
  23. ^ Fiorillo, Victor (July 30, 2014). "Stephen A. Smith Suspended for Domestic Violence Comments; Did ESPN make the right call?", Philadelphia. Retrieved August 8, 2019. "ESPN sportscaster and Cherry Hill resident Stephen A. Smith has been suspended for one week by the network for comments he made suggesting that female victims of domestic violence should examine their own role in the abuse."
  24. ^ Turner, Gus (January 23, 2015). "ESPN, Stephen A. Smith Agree to New Contract; Smith Will Make More Than $3 Million Per Year". Retrieved January 23, 2015.
  25. ^ "ESPN's Stephen A. Smith suggests racism in Chip Kelly's roster moves". March 9, 2015. Retrieved March 22, 2017.
  26. ^ "McCoy: Kelly dumped 'the good black players'". May 6, 2015. Retrieved March 22, 2017.
  27. ^ "Chip Kelly on racism, extra points, Sam Bradford and all things Eagles OTA". May 28, 2015. Retrieved March 22, 2017.
  28. ^ "ESPN's Stephen A. Smith says he didn't call Eagles' Chip Kelly a racist". Archived from the original on June 2, 2015. Retrieved May 31, 2015.
  29. ^ "ESPN host Stephen A. Smith makes terrible joke about Women's World Cup players not wanting to mess up their hair". Business Insider. Retrieved March 22, 2017.
  30. ^ "Stephen A. Smith, Brian Kenny, Charissa Thompson & Tim Bradley Jr. to Call Pacquiao-Vargas Telecast". Archived from the original on November 8, 2016. Retrieved November 7, 2016.
  31. ^ Haring, Bruce (February 7, 2020). "'Live From Hollywood: After The Awards' Aims to Keep the Party Going Apres-Oscars." Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  32. ^ "Stephen A Smith Let's Do That Soccer". Retrieved June 14, 2021.
  33. ^ a b "That Other Guy... He Wasn't Even Acting". Deadspin. February 4, 2007. Retrieved March 11, 2016.
  34. ^ Lamb, Diane (March 28, 2016). "Dramatic turn: Soap fan Stephen A. Smith guests on upcoming General Hospital on ABC". ESPN Front Row. Retrieved October 15, 2019.
  35. ^ a b "A Host of Cameos on GH". Soap Opera Digest. United States. American Media, Inc. March 10, 2016. Retrieved March 11, 2016.
  36. ^ Dator, James (January 22, 2021). "Reviewing every Stephen A. Smith performance on General Hospital". SBNation. Retrieved April 17, 2021.
  37. ^ Eades, Chris (July 11, 2019). "Everything You Need to Know About Brick on GH". ABC Soaps In Depth. Retrieved April 17, 2021.
  38. ^ Clifford, Kambra (September 4, 2020). "Stephen A. Smith returns to General Hospital". SoapCentral. Retrieved April 17, 2021.
  39. ^ ESPN (May 9, 2017). "Stephen A. Smith's 'Blasphemous' Reactions on First Take | ESPN". YouTube. Retrieved May 8, 2018.
  40. ^ HOVD (August 8, 2017). ""Aaron Rodgers is a baaaaaad man"- Stephen A Smith". YouTube. Archived from the original on December 13, 2021. Retrieved May 8, 2018.
  41. ^ ESPN (February 1, 2017). "Stephen A. Smith Celebrates Cowboys' Loss By Wearing Rodgers' Jersey | First Take | January 26, 2017". YouTube. Retrieved May 8, 2018.
  42. ^ ESPN (September 8, 2017). "Stephen A. Smith dramatically comes into Dallas wearing Aaron Rodgers jersey | First Take | ESPN". YouTube. Retrieved May 8, 2018.
  43. ^ a b Todd, Bijan (January 17, 2022). "Stephen A. Smith ruthlessly trolls Cowboys after first round exit". NBC Sports Washington. Retrieved January 29, 2023.
  44. ^ "Stephen A. Mashup: 'Cowboys Are An Accident Waiting To Happen' | First Take | ESPN". YouTube. May 30, 2017. Retrieved May 8, 2018.
  45. ^ "ESPN's Stephen A. Smith believes '3 ties' make Blackhawks' NHL record inferior to Miami Heat's streak (VIDEO)". Retrieved May 8, 2018.
  46. ^ "ESPN's Stephen A. Smith roasts Connor McDavid and the Oilers". The Daily Goal Horn. May 26, 2021. Retrieved July 2, 2021.
  47. ^ "Stephen A. Smith mocks Maple Leafs: 'Dallas Cowboys of the NHL' | Sporting News Canada". June 2, 2021. Retrieved July 2, 2021.
  48. ^ "THE DEFINITIVE "STAY OFF THE WEED" COMPILATION - VOLUME 2 [2015-2016]". YouTube. Retrieved January 11, 2022.
  49. ^ Chan Loftin. "Adrian Peterson Arrested for Weed ESPN First Take". YouTube. Archived from the original on December 13, 2021. Retrieved January 19, 2019.
  50. ^ Chan Loftin (April 7, 2015). "Josh Gordon Fails Marijuana Test And Suspended! ESPN First Take". YouTube. Archived from the original on December 13, 2021. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  51. ^ Tim Ghosh (September 3, 2016). "The Stephen A Smith Show Athletes Can't Stay Off The Weed". YouTube. Archived from the original on December 13, 2021. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  52. ^ Robinson Gina (January 14, 2017). "Stephen A. Smith Rants On Cowboys Randy Gregory: "Stay Off The Weed"". YouTube. Archived from the original on March 15, 2022. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  53. ^ SC Live (July 25, 2016). "Stephen A. Smith: "Aldon Smith should be banned for stupidity"". YouTube. Archived from the original on December 13, 2021. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  54. ^ ESPnSportFirstTake (September 12, 2014). "First Take - Le'Veon Bell, LeGarrette Blount Arrested". YouTube. Archived from the original on December 13, 2021. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  55. ^ Simshine95 (July 31, 2016). "Stephen A Smith *NEW* STAY OFF THE WEED RANT on Le'Veon Bell & Martavis Bryant (2016)". YouTube. Archived from the original on March 15, 2022. Retrieved November 12, 2018.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  56. ^ ESPN (August 10, 2017). "Stephen A. Smith 'Disgusted' with Zach Randolph's Marijuana Arrest | First Take | ESPN". YouTube. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  57. ^ ESPN (May 3, 2019). "'I have to say the obvious!' – Stephen A. on D'Angelo Russell being cited for marijuana | First Take". YouTube. Retrieved May 3, 2019.
  58. ^ "Stephen A. & LeBron reacts to Alex Caruso After He Was Arrested For A Marijuana Possession". YouTube. Archived from the original on July 9, 2021. Retrieved July 2, 2021.
  59. ^ Magary, Drew (December 13, 2019). "Stephen A. Smith Is Never Satisfied". GQ.
  60. ^ "You Can't take the New York out of Stephen A. Smith". ESPN. February 8, 2011. Retrieved March 27, 2022.
  61. ^ O'Donnell, Rickey (February 17, 2022). "Stephen A. Smith's rant on the Knicks is an instant classic". Retrieved March 27, 2022.
  62. ^ "I Think I Love My Wife". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved March 11, 2016.

External links