ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith recalls how he got started in sports journalism: ‘Figure it out’

ESPN personality Stephen A. Smith has been in the sports journalism industry since his youth, when he attended Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina.

Before Smith arrived in Bristol, Conn., and even before he became an NBA reporter in Philadelphia, a professor encouraged him to pursue a career in sportswriting, and he eventually became sports editor at the Winston-Salem Journal. We started meeting. He met with the editor and was hired as a clerk five minutes later.


Commentator Stephen A. Smith watches before Game 5 of the 2022 NBA Playoffs Eastern Conference Finals between the Boston Celtics and the Miami Heat at FTX Arena in Miami on May 25, 2022. (Eric Espada/Getty Images)

Smith reflected on his backstory in an interview. Clay Travis of OutKick. He said he started working at a newspaper and making $400 a week “making a living off tuna fishing and Kool-Aid.” He talked about having to cover the Wake Forest University football team for a feature.

“I said to sports editor Terry Aubert, 'I don't know anything about soccer. The only soccer game I've ever seen was against Pele in 1980. I don't even know.'' He said, “Tell me why that's my problem. Please understand that.'' Mr. Smith said. “So I went to Wake Forest University there, and the coach's name was Walt Sizowicz. I'll never forget him as long as I live. He's gone now. His God bless this wonderful soul.”

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Stephen A. Smith attends a playoff basketball game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors at Arena on May 8, 2023 in Los Angeles. (Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)

“And I walked up to him, this little black kid from Hollis, Queens, New York. I walked up to this guy and said, 'Sir, I'm from Winston-Salem. I'm Stephen A. Smith from the Journal. I'm an aspiring sportswriter. I've never covered football in my life. I was given this assignment, and if I don't do it right, I'll be a sportswriter. It's not very likely. Can you do it? Help me?'”

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Smith's request worked. He said Sizowicz called the entire team to him and said Smith had full access to all the players and could listen to them for the rest of the week. He said the entire team spent an entire week coaching him.

He said that work earned him a position as a beat writer for the Wake Forest football team, and that was the beginning of his career.

Evan Brown scrambles for the ball.

Wake Forest's Evan Brown tries to control the ball against Virginia Tech's Patrick Nyarko during the second half of the NCAA National College Cup semifinals at the SAS Soccer Complex in Cary, North Carolina, Friday, Dec. 14, 2007. There is. (Jason Arthurs/Raleigh News & Observer/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)


Smith went on to work at the Greensboro News, New York Daily News, and Philadelphia Enquirer before becoming the major media personality he is today.



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