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Stephen Anthony Smith[1] (born October 14, 1967) is an American sports television personality, sports radio host, sports journalist, and actor. Smith is a commentator on ESPN First Take, where he appears with Max Kellerman and Molly Qerim. He also makes frequent appearances as an NBA analyst on SportsCenter. He also is an NBA analyst for ESPN on NBA Countdown and NBA broadcasts on ESPN. Smith formerly hosted The Stephen A. Smith and Ryan Ruocco Show on ESPN Radio New York 98.7 FM. He now hosts The Stephen A. Smith Show on the Chris Russo sports radio station: Mad Dog Sports Radio (SIRIUS XM Radio, channel 82) and is a featured columnist for,, and The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Stephen A. Smith
Stephen A. Smith (34462554722) (cropped).jpg
Smith in 2017
Stephen Anthony Smith

(1967-10-14) October 14, 1967 (age 51)
EducationWinston-Salem State University
  • Sports television personality
  • sports radio host
  • sports journalist
  • actor
EmployerESPN Inc.
Basketball career
Personal information
Listed height6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Career information
High schoolThomas A. Edison
(Queens, New York)
PositionPoint guard / Shooting guard

Early years

Smith was born in the Bronx borough of New York City on October 14, 1967. He was raised in the Hollis section of Queens.[2] Smith is the second youngest of six children.[1][3] 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. His father managed a hardware store. Smith's maternal grandmother was white, while the rest of his grandparents were black.[4] Smith graduated from Thomas Edison High School in Queens.[5]

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. 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

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.[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. On his radio program, Smith predicted that LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh would all sign with the Miami Heat during 2010 free agency.[8] In early 2011, Smith became a resident FSR NBA insider and ended his morning 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.[9]

In 2013, 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 ESPN 2's First Take program regarding the Ray Rice situation.[10]

On January 17, 2017, Smith will move from Sirius XM's Mad Dog Sports channel back to ESPN. His daily two-hour program will be heard on WEPN in New York, KSPN in Los Angeles, Sirius XM's ESPN channel, and via syndication.[11]


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 in January 2007, he mainly concentrated on basketball, serving as an NBA analyst.

Smith is known for provocative analysis and dour delivery. 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 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."[12] Though according to Big Lead Sports a source says that ESPN and Smith went to the negotiating table and couldn't reach an agreement.[13] 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 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.[14] 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, a resident of Cherry Hill, New Jersey, was suspended by ESPN for a week and did not appear on any of their programs again until August 6, 2014.[15][16]

In late 2014, Smith signed a multi-year deal with ESPN that will pay him over $3 million per year.[17]

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.[18] 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.[19] 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.[20] Smith defended his comments by saying that he never used a form of the word racism to imply that Kelly was a racist.[21]

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.[22]

On November 5, 2016, Smith joined Top Rank's broadcasting team for the Manny Pacquiao vs. Jessie Vargas boxing Pay-per-View event.[23] In 2019 Smith became a UFC commentator as UFC moved to ESPN as its television broadcaster.

Acting career

Smith made his acting debut on the ABC soap opera General Hospital in a cameo appearance as a television reporter on the February 2, 2007, episode .[24] Later the same year, he was 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. Smith returned to General Hospital on April 1, 2016, though at press time the role was unknown.[25]



Year Title Role Notes ref
2007 I Think I Love My Wife Allan romantic comedy film directed by and also starring Chris Rock. [26]


Year Title Role Notes ref
2007 General Hospital Reporter Cameo appearance [24]
2016 Brick [25]

First Take catchphrases

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.[27] He also frequently refers to Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers as a "baaaaaaaad man"[28] (with the "A" stretched out for several seconds), and 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[29] (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. He has also been known to show a strong hatred towards the Dallas Cowboys, often at times mocking them with their "How 'Bout Them Cowboys?" slogan in a sarcastic manner, and claiming that they are "an accident waiting to happen". A song was even made all about Smith's hatred of the Cowboys.[30] Smith has worn Aaron Rodgers' jersey on two separate occasions on First Take in 2017: once following the Cowboys' elimination at the hands of the Packers,[31] and once during a special taping of First Take from Dallas where Smith received boos from the live crowd.[32]

Smith is known for his outspoken stance on NFL players and the usage of marijuana (still prohibited by league policy, punishable by fine or suspension), loudly telling players to "Stay off the weed!" Examples of players that he has called out for smoking the drug include Adrian Peterson[33], Josh Gordon,[34] Joseph Randle,[35] Randy Gregory,[36] Aldon Smith,[37] LeGarrette Blount,[38] Le'veon Bell and Martavis Bryant.[39] He also has the same reaction for athletes of other leagues getting caught with the usage of marijuana, firstly when the NBA's Zach Randolph[40] was caught and subsequently arrested for possession of marijuana with the intent to sell in August 2017, in addition to another NBA star, D'Angelo Russell, getting cited for marijuana possession inside his luggage at New York's LaGuardia Airport while flying to Louisville in May 2019[41].

The day after the first game of the 2018 NBA Finals, which saw Cleveland Cavaliers player J.R. Smith dribble the ball out in the dying seconds of the fourth quarter rather than attempt to break the tied score and bring the Cavaliers the win over the Golden State Warriors, Smith jokingly delivered his "Stay off the weed!" line at the request of the live crowd attending the live First Take taping in Oakland, garnering applause from the crowd and his First Take co-hosts.[42] The Warriors ultimately won the series and the NBA championship in a four-game sweep.


  1. ^ a b Greenfield, Karl Taro (August 1, 2005), "Stephen A., As In . . .", Sports Illustrated, 103 (4), retrieved September 6, 2019
  2. ^ Britell, Alexander (October 8, 2012). "For ESPN's Stephen A Smith, Finding a Sanctuary in St Thomas". Caribbean Journal. Retrieved September 15, 2013.
  3. ^ Mizell, Gina (June 18, 2012). "Interview with ESPN's Stephen A. Smith–the long version". The Oklahoman. Retrieved September 15, 2013.
  4. ^ "Cowboys: "Dak Prescott Connects To Team In Ways Tony Romo Cannot"". YouTube. January 11, 2017. Retrieved January 11, 2017.
  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 Archived February 11, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. (February 8, 2010). Retrieved on December 22, 2011.
  8. ^ LeBron James Picks Miami: Stephen A. Smith Was Right – Speakeasy – WSJ. (July 8, 2010). Retrieved on July 26, 2014.
  9. ^ Stephen A. Smith is reportedly close to new deal to return to ESPN. NY Daily News (January 26, 2011) Retrieved February 10, 2012
  10. ^ "Raissman: Stephen A. Smith, fresh off rant on domestic violence, heading to Sirius". Retrieved March 22, 2017.
  11. ^ January 4, 2017
  12. ^ Stephen A. Smith is leaving ESPN – (April 17, 2009). Retrieved on December 22, 2011.
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ Grenoble, Ryan (July 25, 2014). "Stephen A Smith: Abuse Victims Should Learn 'About The Elements Of Provocation'". Retrieved March 22, 2017 – via Huff Post.
  15. ^ 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.
  16. ^ Fiorillo, Victor. "Stephen A. Smith Suspended for Domestic Violence Comments; Did ESPN make the right call?", Philadelphia (magazine), July 30, 2014. Accessed 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."
  17. ^ turner, gus. "ESPN stephan a smith agree to new contract". Retrieved January 23, 2015.
  18. ^ "ESPN's Stephen A. Smith suggests racism in Chip Kelly's roster moves". Retrieved March 22, 2017.
  19. ^ "McCoy: Kelly dumped 'the good black players'". Retrieved March 22, 2017.
  20. ^ "Chip Kelly on racism, extra points, Sam Bradford and all things Eagles OTA". Retrieved March 22, 2017.
  21. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on June 2, 2015. Retrieved May 31, 2015. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  22. ^ "ESPN host Stephen A. Smith makes terrible joke about Women's World Cup players not wanting to mess up their hair". Retrieved March 22, 2017.
  23. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on November 8, 2016. Retrieved November 7, 2016. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  24. ^ a b "Disney Inundates General Hospital Episode With References To New Year's Eve College Football Playoff Games". Deadspin. December 30, 2015. Retrieved March 11, 2016.
  25. ^ a b "A HOST OF CAMEOS ON GH". Soap Opera Digest. United States. American Media, Inc. March 10, 2016. Retrieved March 11, 2016.
  26. ^ "I Think I Love My Wife". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved March 11, 2016.
  27. ^ ESPN (May 9, 2017), Stephen A. Smith's 'Blasphemous' Reactions on First Take | ESPN, retrieved May 8, 2018
  28. ^ HOVD (August 8, 2017), "Aaron Rodgers is a baaaaaad man"- Stephen A Smith, retrieved May 8, 2018
  29. ^ "ESPN's Stephen A. Smith believes '3 ties' make Blackhawks' NHL record inferior to Miami Heat's streak (VIDEO)". Retrieved May 8, 2018.
  30. ^ ESPN (May 30, 2017), Stephen A. Mashup: ‘Cowboys Are An Accident Waiting To Happen’ | First Take | ESPN, retrieved May 8, 2018
  31. ^ ESPN (February 1, 2017), Stephen A. Smith Celebrates Cowboys' Loss By Wearing Rodgers' Jersey | First Take | January 26, 2017, retrieved May 8, 2018
  32. ^ ESPN (September 8, 2017), Stephen A. Smith dramatically comes into Dallas wearing Aaron Rodgers jersey | First Take | ESPN, retrieved May 8, 2018
  33. ^ Chan Loftin, Adrian Peterson Arrested for Weed ESPN First Take, retrieved January 19, 2019
  34. ^ Chan Loftin (April 7, 2015), Josh Gordon Fails Marijuana Test And Suspended! ESPN First Take, retrieved November 12, 2018
  35. ^ Tim Ghosh (September 3, 2016), The Stephen A Smith Show Athletes Can't Stay Off The Weed, retrieved November 12, 2018
  36. ^ Robinson Gina (January 14, 2017), Stephen A. Smith Rants On Cowboys Randy Gregory: "Stay Off The Weed", retrieved November 12, 2018
  37. ^ SC Live (July 25, 2016), Stephen A. Smith: "Aldon Smith should be banned for stupidity", retrieved November 12, 2018
  38. ^ ESPnSportFirstTake (September 12, 2014), First Take - Le’Veon Bell, LeGarrette Blount Arrested, retrieved November 12, 2018
  39. ^ Simshine95 (July 31, 2016), Stephen A Smith *NEW* STAY OFF THE WEED RANT on Le'Veon Bell & Martavis Bryant (2016), retrieved November 12, 2018
  40. ^ ESPN (August 10, 2017), Stephen A. Smith 'Disgusted' with Zach Randolph's Marijuana Arrest | First Take | ESPN, retrieved November 12, 2018
  41. ^ ESPN (May 3, 2019), ‘I have to say the obvious!’ – Stephen A. on D’Angelo Russell being cited for marijuana | First Take, retrieved May 3, 2019
  42. ^ "@sirlouisii on Instagram: "STAY OFF THE WEEEEEDD!!! @stephenasmith 😂😂😂 #NBA #Basketball #Playoffs #JR #StephenA #StayOffTheWeed #ESPNFirstTake"". Instagram. Retrieved November 12, 2018.

External links