NBA reporter and analyst Sekou Smith dies at 48 as a consequence of COVID-19

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 metropolis’s Jackson Clarion-Ledger. He then went on to develop into a fixture within the NBA universe — first as a beat author protecting 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 and a number of the Hold Time Podcast.

Smith is survived by his spouse, Heather, and their three kids: 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’ll miss his heat, participating character,” Turner Sports activities stated 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 inside the basketball world, each for the work he produced in his almost 20 years protecting the game and, extra importantly, for being a form and first rate individual, one with an ever-present smile and a beautiful chuckle. These virtues, and lots of others, have been bolstered within the outpouring of messages on social media within the wake of the information of his loss of life.

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 stated in an announcement. “Sekou was one of the vital affable and devoted reporters within the NBA and a terrific buddy to so many throughout the league. He coated 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 expertise as an attractive tv analyst, podcast host and author. Sekou’s love of basketball was clear to everybody who knew him and it at all times shined via in his work. Our heartfelt condolences go to his spouse, Heather, and their kids, Gabriel, Rielly and Cameron.”

Each Kerr and Van Gundy frolicked working with Smith at Turner Sports activities, and took time to acknowledge his loss of life after their respective groups practiced Tuesday.

“I simply heard the information about Sekou Smith and I’m simply devastated,” Kerr stated. “I do know I communicate for our whole group, simply crushing information at the moment. Sekou has been part of the NBA household for a very long time.

“I simply need to specific our group’s condolences to Sekou’s household.”

“It simply hit laborious,” stated Van Gundy, who labored with Smith at Turner Sports activities earlier than taking the Pelicans job previous to this season. Van Gundy stated he discovered the information shortly earlier than observe started.

“I feel for all of us, this COVID factor has been painful, to say the least. However while you lose someone that you understand, and that you simply admire and respect, and who’s younger.

“I imply, he may not be younger by a few of your guys’ requirements, however younger by my requirements, it is simply actually, actually laborious. This factor is so scary and has introduced a lot grief to so many individuals. … As we speak is one these days. There’s lots of people in Atlanta at the moment grieving a terrific man in Sekou.”

NBA gamers previous and current additionally supplied their condolences on his loss of life, 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 among 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 coated as a beat author.

“The passing of Sekou Smith as a consequence of COVID-19 issues hits so many members of the NABJ Sports activities household extraordinarily laborious,” the NABJ stated in an announcement. “He was greater than a colleague; he was a buddy and brother to us, and so many others.

“Our deepest prayers exit to his spouse, Heather, and their kids.

“Our members are devastated by the passing of our beloved buddy and trusted colleague Sekou Smith,” the Professional Basketball Writers Affiliation stated in an announcement. “He was a form, caring individual and an incredible journalist. We love you, Sekou. Our ideas and prayers exit to his household and his co-workers at Turner Sports activities.”

Nobody, nevertheless, 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’s within the trade,” Pierce stated.

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