Beloved NBA reporter and television analyst Sekou Smith died on Tuesday, the league said. He was 48 years old.
Smith covered the NBA for about two decades. He began working for the Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Mississippi, before covering the Indiana Pacers and Atlanta Hawks during his time with the Indianapolis Star and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
He joined Turner Sports in 2009, working as a reporter and analyst for NBA.com and NBA TV. Smith also hosted the Hang Time podcast, with its last appearance on January 11.
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“We are all saddened by the tragic passing of Sekou,” Turner Sports said in a statement. “His commitment to journalism and the basketball community was immense and his warm and engaging personality will be missed. He was loved by his friends and colleagues at Turner Sports and the NBA. Our deepest condolences go out to his family and loved ones. ”
Smith has been described as a kind person and an important figure in the NBA community, leading to a wave of tributes from former colleagues, players, coaches and officials in the league.
“The NBA mourns the passing of Sekou Smith, a beloved member of the NBA family,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. “Sekou was one of the most gracious and dedicated reporters in the NBA and a wonderful friend to so many in the league. ”
“Sekou’s love for basketball was clear to everyone who knew him and he always shone in his job. Our sincere condolences go to his wife, Heather, and their children, Gabriel, Rielly and Cameron, ”continued Silver.
Smith had battled the coronavirus, according to reports. His cause of death was not officially revealed on Tuesday.
New Orleans Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy said he last heard about Smith’s condition Monday night from longtime NBA writer Marc Spears and that he thought things were getting better.
After learning of his death, he said the news “had hit hard”.
“I think for all of us this story of COVID has been painful, to say the least,” said Van Gundy who worked with Smith at Turner Sports before taking over as Pelicans. “But when you lose someone you know, and admire and respect and who is young. I mean, he might not be young by some definitions of your guys, but young by my standards. ”
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Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who also spent time working with Smith at Turner Sports, said he was “just devastated.”
“Overwhelming news,” Kerr said, according to The Athletic reporter Anthony Slater. “Sekou has been a part of the NBA family for a long time… Just another horrible day and we are all very saddened. ”
Other members of the NBA community and the sports world reacted to the news on social media.
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A native of Grand Rapids, Michigan, Smith attended college in Jackson State, Mississippi before entering the sports world.