Stephen A Smith: Life, Career and Incredible Takes of the Larger-than-Life Sportscaster

Stephen A Smith

Stephen Anthony Smith, popularly known as Stephen A Smith is one of America’s most famous sports media personalities. Aside from appearing on sports television, Stephen A Smith also works as a sports radio host and a sports journalist. Stephen A Smith is most well known for his appearances on ESPN’s popular sports debate show First Take. Aside from First Take, Stephen A Smith appears as a guest on a lot of ESPN shows such as Get Up, NBA Countdown and SportsCenter. He primarily serves as an NBA and NFL analyst on First Take with Max Kellerman and Molly Qerim. Aside from television, Stephen A Smith also hosts the Stephen A. Smith show on ESPN Radio. He also writes for,, and The Philadelphia Inquirer. Stephen A Smith is very well known for his larger than life personality and exaggerated takes. All of that makes him must-see TV and he is probably the biggest draw among all the analysts on ESPN. Let’s find out more about him.

Stephen A Smith: All You Need to Know

When was Stephen A Smith born?

Stephen A Smith was born in the Bronx borough of New York City on October 14, 1967. He was raised in the Hollis section of Queens. Smith is the fifth of six children. He has four older sisters and had a younger 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. 

Where did Stephen A Smith study?

Stephen A Smith graduated from Thomas Edison High School in Queens. 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. He played under Hall of Fame coach Clarence Gaines in college. While still on the team, Smith wrote a column for the university newspaper, The News Argus, arguing Gaines should retire due to health issues. During his time at Winston-Salem State University, Stephen A Smith was a member of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity. Stephen A Smith had to stop playing basketball because of a knee injury which needed reconstructive surgery to fix.

Stephen A Smith: Professional Career

Writing career

Stephen A Smith started his writing career with the Winston-Salem Journal, the Greensboro News and Record, and the New York Daily News.

Starting in 1994, Stephen A Smith held 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. Stephen A Smith and the Inquirer ended their relationship in 2008 and Stephen A Smith started his own blog called In February 2010, Smith returned to the Philadelphia Inquirer after winning an arbitrator’s ruling that he was to be reinstated. However, he had to get rid of all his political views from the website and news shows.

Radio career

On April 11, 2005, Smith became the host of a weekday noon to 2 PM radio show on WEPN in New York City. He started working on the show along 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 PM 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 Myers–Steve Hartman afternoon show on November 25. Iverson later ended his short retirement and re-joined the Philadelphia 76ers on December 2. Stephen A Smith joined Fox Sports Radio as a 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. 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.

Stephen A Smith left ESPN Radio for Sirius XM Radio in 2013 and joined forces with 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.

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. Stephen A Smith is an emotional fan of the New York Knicks and he went on a very popular “They’re Trash” rant on his radio show because of the bad performances by the franchise in general, on and off the court.

Television career

Smith is currently one of the analysts on First Take on ESPN. He appeared for a long time with veteran sports analyst Skip Bayless until Bayless moved to Fox Sports 1 for Skip and Shannon: Undisputed. Stephen A Smith also appears as an analyst on various ESPN programs. He is known for provocative analysis and dour delivery.

Stephen A Smith made his television debut 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. The Los Angeles Times reported that ESPN commented that, “We decided to move in different directions.” Though according to Big Lead Sports, a source says that ESPN and Smith went to the negotiating table and could not reach an agreement.

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. 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.

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

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.” According to NBS Sports’ Michael David Smith, Stephen A Smith had hinted that 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. 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. 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. Smith defended his comments by saying that he never used a form of the word racism to imply that Kelly was a racist.

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.” As expected, the comment landed Stephen A Smith in hot water and he was criticised for being sexist. ESPN said they spoke with Smith about the comment, and he later apologized in a series of tweets.

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

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

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. He has said that he is a longtime fan of the show. Smith returned to General Hospital on April 1, 2016, as the character Brick. He has returned to the show several times as Brick.

In 2007, Stephen A Smith also appeared in the Chris Rock movie 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.

The Best Takes of Stephen A Smith


Stephen A 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.


Stephen A Smith also became famous for using the word “disrespectful” to describe some of Skip Bayless’ outrageous takes on Lebron James. His “disrespectful” rants were compiled and turned into a song.

Kwame Brown

Stephen A Smith also became very famous for his rants about Kwame Brown when he was traded away from the Los Angeles Lakers. Smith flat out said that Kwame Brown “doesn’t know how to play basketball”.

Bad Man

He also frequently refers to Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers as a “baaaaaaaad man” (with the “A” stretched out for several seconds). Smith has worn Rodgers’ jersey on two separate occasions on First Take in 2017: once following the Dallas Cowboys’ elimination at the hands of the Packers] and once during a special taping of First Take from Dallas where Smith received boos from the live crowd. 

Accident Waiting to Happen

Stephen A 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 and claiming that they are “an accident waiting to happen.” A song was even made all about Smith’s hatred of the Cowboys and it is loved by sports fans all over the world.

Most Disgusting Nauseating Fan Base

Stephen A Smith has repeatedly called the Dallas Cowboys fan base as the most “disgusting, nauseating fanbase in American history”. Recently, he has even introduced a character of Stephen H Smith who appears after every Cowboys loss and goes out of his way to antagonize Cowboys fans. Stephen A Smith is also famous for arguing aggressively with former Cowboys great Michael Irvin and constantly pointing out how the team has “only won two playoff games in 25 years”.


He has also 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 (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.

Stay Off the Weed

Stephen A 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, Josh Gordon, Joseph Randle, Randy Gregory, Aldon Smith, LeGarrette Blount, Le’veon Bell, and Martavis Bryant. 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 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.

The day after the Golden State Warriors Game 1 overtime victory in the 2018 NBA Finals, which saw Cleveland Cavaliers player J.R. Smith dribble the ball out without attempting a shot in the dying seconds of the fourth quarter thinking his team was leading the game rather than attempting to break the tie score, Stephen A. 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. The Warriors ultimately won the series and the NBA championship in a four-game sweep.

New York Knicks

Stephen A Smith is also a New York Knicks superfan and he is famous for going on emotionally charged melodramatic rants about the New York Knicks and their struggles.

Stephen A Smith: Best Quotes

Once upon a time, it was hard to decipher what was more difficult to stomach: the foolish, detrimental behavior of a professional athlete or the apologists disguised as their inner circle, eager to excuse the inexcusable. And then there came Allen Iverson, who didn’t make it difficult at all.

If you are the president of the United States of America, you are 70 years of age, and you are tweeting – literally competing with 15- and 17-year-olds – that is a problem.

When I was at the ‘Philadelphia Inquirer,’ I was promoted nine times in my first 13 years. I ultimately went from general assignment to beats on St. Joe’s and Temple, to backup writer, to NBA writer, to NBA columnist, to, ultimately, in 2003, to general sports columns.

I realize there is a paucity of African-Americans in my position. Everywhere I go, people say, ‘Don’t mess this up. Don’t forget about us.’ You feel a tremendous responsibility, not to take the black side of things but to make sure that side gets heard, because if I don’t do it, who’s going to do it?

When you think about advertising, it’s understanding that whether it’s newspaper, radio, or television, you have to know how to advertise, how to market, because ultimately, everything comes down to ratings and revenue or ratings and subscribers and revenue, whether it’s newspapers or radio or television.

While winning may not always personify the Big Apple, attitude certainly does. Players get called to the carpet. So do coaches, managers, executives, owners, and anyone associated with them. No one is safe.

I came up in this industry at a time where you had to be a journalist. You had to break stories. You had to break news to elevate your career, to get to a certain point and a certain level in this business, before you even had the license to give your opinion, especially if you were a black man.

I date African-American women. That’s all I date. In my family, it was never discussed – but I love black women. Nothing beats a sister. However, when you see a female like Jennifer Lopez, you have to acknowledge that there are many beautiful Latino women as well.

Maybe, instead of putting our standards on other people, we should be very reticent, apprehensive, and deliberate and methodical in choosing whom we choose to elevate in the eyes of the public as role models.

What is Stephen A Smith’s net worth?

Stephen A Smith has a net worth of $10 million, earning a salary of approximately $3.5 million through his work as a sports analyst at ESPN. He is most famous for appearing on the First Take show alongside Max Kellerman and Molly Qerim. He also frequently appears on other ESPN sports shows such as SportsCenter, Get Up, and NBA Countdown. He signed a multi-year contract with ESPN in 2014 and also hosts “The Stephen A Smith Show” on Chris Russo Sports Radio: Mad Dog Sports Radio (SIRIUS XM Radio, channel 82). He receives $1 million a year for his show on Sirius XM.

How tall is Stephen A Smith?

Stephen A Smith stands 185 centimetres or 6 feet 1 inch tall. His height is not surprising considering the fact that he played college basketball on a scholarship.

Who is Stephen A Smith married to?

Stephen A Smith has kept his romantic life very discreet. While he openly and frequently talks about his relationships with his sisters and deceased mother, he has never spoken about a girlfriend/wife. The jury is out on whether Stephen A Smith is married or in a relationship. Some people have even claimed that Stephen A Smith might be gay. 

He is almost never seen in public with an apparently “special” woman. However, in a rare event, he was seen with a female friend in 2011 at the Steve Harvey Foundation’s second annual gala held in Cipriani, Wall Street, New York City.

How many children does Stephen A Smith have?

Some time ago, there was a rumour circulating that Stephen A Smith has a nine year old son. However, the rumour was never confirmed and Smith doesn’t have any children. He doesn’t have a girlfriend or wife either. 

How was Stephen A Smith’s relationship with his mother?

Unlike his dubious secret about his wife or the other lover, Stephen A Smith was particularly vehement about his mother Janet Smith, her immeasurable contributions to his success and her place in his life. Stephen A Smith’s mother passed away after a long and painful battle with cancer on June 1st, 2017. He paid a lengthy tribute to her on the air, calling her “the best woman he has ever known”. While she was struggling with cancer, Stephen A Smith sent a heartfelt Mother’s Day message to his mother on air:

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