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Stephen A. Smith is such a notable part of the sports media landscape it’s hard to imagine what it’d be like had he quit years ago.
As it turns out, it almost happened.
The Athletic put out an article about the history of First Take. Look, it’s a compelling show at times, but let’s stop acting like it’s some kind of cultural institution The Tonight Show. At least before Fallon took it over and ruined it.
Anywho, in it, they revealed that early in Smith’s career, he considered calling it quits and going to work as a banker.
Smith went to school at Winston-Salem State in North Carolina. After graduating he took a job at the Winston-Salem Journal.
“While a cub reporter in North Carolina, he called [Rob] Parker, then a baseball writer in Cincinnati, and told him he was quitting the business and going to apply for a job with Wachovia,” The Athletic piece.
Remember Wachovia? They used to be a bank.
Parker must have seen something in Smith so he talked him into sticking around in the sports media biz.
“They had met years earlier at a National Association of Black Journalists convention (“He was Steve Smith back in the day,” Parker says). Parker saw Smith’s natural talent and told him to rip up the Wachovia application so loudly that he could hear it over the phone. Parker understood what others would learn: Smith was young, hungry, and unapologetically himself.”
Nowadays, it’s hard to picture Stephen A. Smith doing anything other than sports media. He probably owes Rob Parker a nice steak dinner for keeping him in the business.
Follow on Twitter: @Matt_Reigle