Jackson State University recently established the Sekou Smith Journalism Award in honor of its namesake, a JSU alum and NBA reporter and analyst who hosted NBA.com’s “Hang Time” blog and podcast. Smith passed away on Jan. 26 due to complications from COVID-19 at age 48.
Smith was born in Grand Rapids, Mich., on May 15, 1972 and played numerous sports as a child, including basketball, tennis, soccer, football, wrestling and cycling. He enrolled at JSU as a mass communications major in 1993 and entered the journalism field as a part-time sports clerk at the Clarion-Ledger the following year. He graduated from JSU in 1997 and remained with the Ledger until 2001, when he moved to Indianapolis, Ind., to take a position with the Indianapolis Star newspaper, covering the Indiana Pacers basketball team.
In 2005, Smith took a position with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper in Atlanta, Ga., covering the Atlanta Hawks basketball team. He took a position with Turner Sports, the host of NBA TV, in 2009 and began working as a senior on-air analyst and writer for NBA.com. During that time, he began writing a weekly column titled "The MVP Ladder" and launched the "Hang Time'' podcast, where he interviewed NBA players, reporters and coaches.
JSU stated in a release that the decision to launch the Sekou Smith Journalism Award came about after Smith’s family received numerous calls and texts from people wanting to lend their support after his passing, including his co-workers and employers.
Smith is survived by his sister, Ayanna; his wife, Heather Pulliam; his sons, Gabriel and Cameron; a daughter, Rielly; his father; his sisters, Charmel Mack and Misti Stanton; and his brother, Eric.
To donate to the Sekou Smith Journalism Award Scholarship, visit https://app.mobilecause.com/f/1zc8/n?vid=gwmao.