Longtime NBA reporter and analyst Sekou Smith died on Tuesday.
Unit 1 Hoop Source was the first to report the news. NBA TV later confirmed his death. He was 48 years old.
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Smith worked for the Clarion-Ledger and wrote for the Indianapolis Star and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution covering the Pacers and the Hawks after graduating from Jackson State University in 1997. He joined Turner Sports in 2009, where he worked as a reporter and an analyst for NBA.com and NBA TV.
He was a mainstay on NBA TV’s studio show “Game Time” and “The Beat.” He was also the host and creator of NBA.com’s “Hang Time” podcast and blog.
His last podcast appearance was on Jan. 11.
Smith is survived by his wife Heather and children Gabriel, Rielly and Cameron.
Tributes pour in upon news of Smith’s death. Beloved in the NBA and sports media community, Smith was remembered fondly by many who had worked with him throughout his career.
What I’d give for one more bike ride in the bubble with you brother. Along with @THE_Morgann, @MarcJSpears and John Scott, we bonded like never before. @SekouSmithNBA fell a few times, but he got up and kept riding. Now he’s riding up high. Rest easy big brother. Love you. pic.twitter.com/dRbbBCpseP
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) January 27, 2021
Hard to process. An impeccable human being. Rest In Peace, Sekou Smith. pic.twitter.com/7MwOMyOAB3
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) January 26, 2021
Thank you for your brotherly friendship, humor, honesty and compassion. Glad we had a chance to tell each other we loved each other three weeks ago. You were a gift to this Earth as a friend, father and a man Sekou Smith. Rest In Peace to my brother. Prayers to your wife & family pic.twitter.com/mqjnZyEHNz
— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpears) January 26, 2021
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.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 27, 2021
I grappled with this today with tears running down my face. Sekou Smith was my friend. I lost my friend. We worked together and alongside each other. He made every minute you were with him better. Every minute. Prayers, peace and love to his family. I love you man. #SEKOUSTRONG
— Chris Vivlamore (@CVivlamoreAJC) January 26, 2021
Sekou was good to me for no reason. He welcomed me into the fraternity of beat writers when I was very young and very green. We could talk about Michigan football, the league, life, anything. I’ll miss him dearly. Tough day, man
— Vincent Goodwill (@VinceGoodwill) January 26, 2021
The Atlanta Hawks, the NBA franchise for which Smith was a beat writer for several years, released a statement paying tribute to the journalist.
“The Atlanta Hawks organisation is heartbroken by the passing of Sekou Smith,” the statement read.
“The Hawks’ beat writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution from 2005-09, Sekou provided our fans with honest and fair coverage, sharing incredible insight on the team while establishing himself as one of the NBA’s top basketball personalities.
“He made Atlanta his home, continuing his brilliant work at NBA Digital on TV and behind the keyboard telling the stories of the league in his own unique way.
The Hawks released a statement on Sekou Smith’s death. pic.twitter.com/9Eo8W769Bd
— Chris Kirschner (@ChrisKirschner) January 27, 2021
“Sekou’s passion for the NBA and its players was only outmatched by the pride and love he reserved for his family and friends.
“We send our condolences to his wife Heather and their three children. He will be sorely missed.”
Wife, stars remember Kobe Bryant, daughter
Vanessa Bryant has paid tribute to her husband Kobe and daughter Gigi on the one-year anniversary of their deaths, saying "it still doesn't seem real".
She joined NBA legends, sports teams and fans who remembered Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, who died along with seven others in a helicopter crash in California.
"I miss my baby girl and Kob-Kob so much," Vanessa wrote on Instagram on Tuesday.
"I will never understand why/how this tragedy could've happened to such beautiful, kind and amazing human beings.
"It still doesn't seem real. Kob, we did it right. Gigi, you still make mommy proud. I love you!"
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Lakers were given the day off to remember the fallen star.
Bryant was a five-time NBA champion and three-time NBA Finals MVP during his 20-year career with the Lakers.
He was elected posthumously to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.
Fellow Lakers legend Magic Johnson shared a photo of him and Bryant, while Black Panther actor Michael B. Jordan paid tribute with a photo of Bryant and Gigi and a heartfelt caption.
"Rest in power. You'll never be forgotten," Jordan wrote on Instagram.
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