A New York native, Stephen Anthony Smith was born on October 14, 1967 in the Bronx and raised in Queens. While attending Thomas A. Edison High School, he played basketball and hoped to play in college.
Upon graduating from high school, he attended the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in NYC and had an educational focus on advertising and communications. However, following his freshman year, Smith was offered a basketball scholarship from Winston-Salem State University, a historically black university in North Carolina.
While playing basketball at WSSU, and studying mass communication, Smith realized his “natural talent” for sportswriting. Before graduating in 1991, a writing professor who recognized Smith’s talent got him a job as a clerk with the Winston--Salem Journal, where Smith wrote for the sports department. Shortly after, he became a reporter for the Greensboro News and Record’s bureau in High Point, and later left to become a news writer for the New York Daily News.
In 1994, Smith left the Daily News for a staff writer position with the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he spent 16 years covering sports. Smith covered Drexel and Temple basketball and football before becoming an NBA writer for the 76ers, then an NBA columnist and eventually, the general sports columnist for the paper.
Smith left the Inquirer for ESPN in 2003 and began integrating into the sports broadcasting world. He hosted several radio shows for WEPN, ESPN Radio and Mad Dog Sports, and was also a TV analyst for ESPN’s NBA Shootaround pregame show (later called NBA Countdown). In 2012, Smith became the permanent cohost across from Skip Bayless on ESPN’s daily debate show First Take.
Although Bayless left the network in 2016, First Take has become one of the most popular daytime TV debate shows with Smith and now, Max Kellerman at the helm.
Smith also hosts his own daily radio show on ESPN, “The Stephen A. Smith Show,” and is one of the sports media world’s most influential figures.