11:39 PM ET
- Tim BontempsESPN
Sekou Smith, a longtime NBA reporter and tv analyst, died Tuesday after a battle with COVID-19. He was 48.
A local of Grand Rapids, Michigan, Smith went to school at Jackson State in Mississippi, earlier than beginning his profession on the Clarion-Ledger in Jackson. He went on to develop into a fixture within the NBA universe — first as a beat author masking the Indiana Pacers for the Indianapolis Star and the Atlanta Hawks for the Atlanta Journal-Structure, earlier than becoming a member of Turner Sports activities in 2009.
For greater than a decade, Smith starred throughout all platforms for Turner, serving as an analyst for NBA TV, a author for NBA.com and a bunch of the Cling Time Podcast.
Smith is survived by his spouse, Heather, and their three youngsters, Gabriel, Rielly and Cameron.
“We’re all heartbroken over Sekou’s tragic passing. His dedication to journalism and the basketball group was immense and we are going to miss his heat, partaking character,” Turner Sports activities mentioned in an announcement. “He was beloved by his Turner Sports activities and NBA associates and colleagues. Our deepest condolences are together with his household and family members.”
Smith was universally beloved throughout the basketball world, each for the work he produced in his practically 20 years masking the game and, extra importantly, for being a sort and first rate individual, one with an ever-present smile and a beautiful giggle. These virtues, and plenty of others, have been bolstered within the outpouring of messages on social media following the information of his demise.
Along with his colleagues throughout the journalism trade, the tributes got here from NBA commissioner Adam Silver, in addition to Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr and New Orleans Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy.
“The NBA mourns the passing of Sekou Smith, a beloved member of the NBA household,” Silver mentioned in an announcement. “Sekou was one of the vital affable and devoted reporters within the NBA and a terrific pal to so many throughout the league. He lined the sport for greater than 20 years, together with the previous 11 years with Turner Sports activities, the place he confirmed his full vary of abilities as an interesting tv analyst, podcast host and author. Sekou’s love of basketball was clear to everybody who knew him and it at all times shined by means of in his work. Our heartfelt condolences go to his spouse, Heather, and their youngsters, Gabriel, Rielly and Cameron.”
Each Kerr and Van Gundy frolicked working with Smith at Turner Sports activities, they usually took time to acknowledge his demise after their respective groups practiced Tuesday.
“I simply heard the information about Sekou Smith, and I’m simply devastated,” Kerr mentioned. “I do know I communicate for our complete group, simply crushing information at the moment. Sekou has been part of the NBA household for a very long time.
“I simply need to categorical our group’s condolences to Sekou’s household.”
“It simply hit arduous,” mentioned Van Gundy, who labored with Smith at Turner Sports activities earlier than taking the Pelicans job previous to this season. Van Gundy mentioned he discovered the information shortly earlier than apply started. “I feel for all of us, this COVID factor has been painful, to say the least. However once you lose any individual that , and that you simply admire and respect and who’s younger. I imply, he won’t be younger by a few of your guys’ requirements, however younger by my requirements — it is simply actually, actually arduous.
“This factor is so scary and has introduced a lot grief to so many individuals. … Right now is one these days. There’s lots of people in Atlanta at the moment grieving an ideal man in Sekou.”
NBA gamers previous and current additionally provided their condolences on his demise, together with Phoenix Suns star Chris Paul and future Corridor of Famer Dwyane Wade.
Smith, a passionate fan of the Michigan Wolverines, mentored numerous colleagues within the enterprise as a member of the Nationwide Affiliation of Black Journalists. He additionally was one in all a handful of journalists who frolicked contained in the NBA’s bubble on the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, to cowl final season’s playoffs, together with the NBA Finals.
Each the NABJ and the Professional Basketball Writers Affiliation issued statements honoring his life and legacy, as did the Pacers and Hawks, the 2 groups he lined as a beat author.
“The passing of Sekou Smith resulting from COVID-19 issues hits so many members of the NABJ Sports activities household extraordinarily arduous,” the NABJ mentioned in an announcement. “He was greater than a colleague; he was a pal and brother to us, and so many others.
“Our deepest prayers exit to his spouse, Heather, and their youngsters.”
“Our members are devastated by the passing of our beloved pal and trusted colleague Sekou Smith,” the Professional Basketball Writers Affiliation mentioned in an announcement. “He was a sort, caring individual and an amazing journalist. We love you, Sekou. Our ideas and prayers exit to his household and his co-workers at Turner Sports activities.”
Longtime Hawks PR man Arthur Triche, who labored with the group when Smith was masking it, instructed ESPN, “He was my pal earlier than he took the job right here, and he turned my greatest pal.
“He was my sidekick on the street, and folks most likely thought I used to be giving him firm secrets and techniques, however that could not be farther from the reality. He was at all times telling me what was occurring.”
Maybe nobody summed up Smith higher and extra succinctly than Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce after his group beat the LA Clippers in Smith’s adopted hometown of Atlanta on Tuesday evening.
“As real of an individual as there may be within the trade,” Pierce mentioned.