NBA TV’s Sekou Smith dies of COVID-19, mourned as ‘unflinching’ and ‘insightful’

Smith is remembered as one of the premiere analysts of the league

Veteran NBA reporter and NBA TV host Sekou Smith has died of COVID-19 at the age of 48.

Smith was a senior analyst, NBA Digital, at Turner Broadcasting with more than 25 years of experience as one of the defining sports writers to narrate the story of the game.

The network mourned the passing of the The Hang Time Podcast host in a message posted to social media.

It is not known how long he was battling COVID-19, however, he made various online appearances in recent weeks. His last appearance on his podcast was on Jan. 11.

The news of the beloved journalist’s death quickly made the rounds on social media Tuesday evening. He was mourned as a man who loved the game of basketball and shared that warmth with those with who he came in contact.

Smith was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan but adopted Atlanta as his home in his adult life.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, one of the network’s leading NBA reporters paid tribute to his colleague as one of the essential journalists covering the sport. He recounted their time together as colleagues and friends.

“Sekou Smith was the very best of us. Smart. Funny. Unflinching. Full of good. A lot of days and nights on the road with him – Bubble, Finals, Olympics, wherever – and always this: Photos of his kids playing ball, or graduating, or leaving for college. Godspeed, my friend,” Wojnarowski wrote.

Former ESPN host Jemele Hill recalled that her friendship with Smith began when she was 20 and at the start of her career. While she said she was glad he was “at peace,” she was devasted to learn of his death.

“I’ve known Sekou Smith since I was 20 years old. Never forget the day we met. We were both interns at the Plain Dealer in Cleveland and we met filling out our paperwork. We clicked right away and a great friendship was born. I’m glad he’s at peace, but this absolutely hurts,” she tweeted.

NABJ Sports also extended their sympathies to Smith’s loved ones on the news of his passing and said they were taking it “extremely hard.”

“He was more than a colleague; he was a friend and brother to us and many others,” the tweet read.

“Heavy heart today.. We lost a good brother to Covid. Sekou Smith of  @NBATV  and was a brilliant and insightful writer, a positive dude. He’s gone home to be with the Lord. ?? ,” ESPN’s Mark Jones wrote.

Just two weeks ago, Smith was answering questions on The A. List Podcast about whether or not the NBA season should continue amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Smith said he was not concerned about the risks while reporting from the ‘bubble’ in Orlando last year during the truncated NBA season.

But he expressed some concerns about the new NBA season which is being played without that safeguard. Road trips have resumed, leading to a spate of COVID-19 cases among players.

Smith bemoaned the new season’s “cavalier attitude” and noted that there were “red flags” as it could not be determined how each player was handling COVID-19 protocols on their own.

“But I knew once we left that environment and we got back to normal, that we were going to have the same issues that everyone else was having in terms of the potential for something to go sideways,” he said.

Smith is survived by his wife Heather and three children, Gabriel, Rielly and Cameron.

Have you subscribed to 
theGrio’s podcast “Dear Culture”? Download our newest episodes now!

TheGrio is now on Apple TV, Amazon Fire, and Roku. Download theGrio today!