In-your-face ESPN sports commentator Stephen A. Smith says every rebuke and put-down he received on his way up only fueled his desire to succeed.
"I got left back because I couldn't read. I got laughed at, ridiculed, humiliated, but that turned out to be the best thing that happened to me because I have been motivated ever since,” he told BET.com in an exclusive interview.
Smith hails from the Hollis, Queens, section of New York City. After graduating from Winston-Salem State University, an historically Black college in Winston-Salem, N.C., Smith became a high school sportswriter at the New York Daily News in the summer of 1993. He later latched on with the Philadelphia Inquirer, covering college football and basketball, and ultimately the NBA, his dream job. After a stint at Fox Sports Net’s Best Damn Sports Show Period, Smith joined ESPN as an analyst/insider in 2003. He is now a staple of the Bristol, Conn.-based sports network.
Along the way, Smith has dealt with personal tragedy — the death of a beloved older brother — as well as racial prejudice, financial difficulties, educational setbacks and career challenges, yet he has let nothing discourage him for long.
“I’m determined to be considered one of the very best at what I do. And I don't relent and I don't rest until I accomplish those goals,” Smith said.