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Producers' Pick | Stephen A. Smith: Straight Shooter - A Memoir of Second Chances and First Takes

Brian Kilmeade Show / Brian Kilmeade
The Truth Network Radio
March 25, 2023 12:00 am

Producers' Pick | Stephen A. Smith: Straight Shooter - A Memoir of Second Chances and First Takes

Brian Kilmeade Show / Brian Kilmeade

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March 25, 2023 12:00 am

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Options selected by customer availability and eligibility may vary. But with me right now to talk a little sports and more, Stephen A. Smith, author of Straight Shooter, a memoir of second chances and first takes. Stephen, welcome. What's going on, Brian? Long time no speak. How you been, man?

I know. And also, I should say you got your Show No Mercy podcast, which is now out. I loved your memoir. I thought I'd like it.

I didn't think I would love it. I just think it could be so inspirational for people out there who don't have everything paved for them, like you going through school, not having success, being left back, undiagnosed dyslexia, hearing your parents worry that you're never going to amount to anything. And also having the tough situation at home with your mother working all the time and the youngest of six kids. Did that really mold who you are today?

I don't think there's any question about that. I mean, to see my mother work as hard as she did, that certainly is still the level of work ethic and not just me, but all of us. All four of my sisters, my late brother as well, who passed away in a car accident in 1992, all of us had work ethic because we watched her. I think the thing that was very, very much a struggle is that we weren't we were not poor for, you know, predictable reasons or whatever. We were poor because my father chose to take his money and it's spending on another family. And so because of that, that left us in a hole, a big time hole with my mother having to struggle in ways that I personally don't believe any woman should have to struggle. And so because of that, that put a lot of weight on our shoulders, particularly me as a young man trying to make sure that I didn't duplicate or replicate his actions as a responsible adult, as a man that was going to lead his family. So that kind of attitude definitely was instilled in me from watching my mother have to go through what she had to go through. And it had a lot to do with the mentality that I have today. Right.

I mean, put it this way, indefatigable. But you also have a sense of self-confidence when in your situation and in your youth who should be laying the groundwork for anything. But do you remember when you just started believing in yourself to the point where when the criticism came in, it didn't affect you? Well, to me, I think it started in the seventh grade when the teacher told my mother, as I point out in my book Straight Shooter, when the teacher points out to my mother that he's not he's not dumb. He's pretty smart. The problem is that he drifts because when he's not passionate about something, it's not that he doesn't understand.

He's not listening. You know, he drifts and he fades away. But when you find out where his passion is, you'll have a star in your hand.

So it started there. But then it really materialized in college because I was playing college basketball. I was obviously on a basketball scholarship and going to class and having my critical and persuasive writing professor saying that I was a natural born sports writer. I knew that I was passionate about sports. I knew that I knew sports.

But when you have a professor saying this guy can write, he needs to be a sports writer. And then he takes me over to the sports editor, the Winston-Salem Journal. And I get hired in five minutes.

And you've got a bunch of staffers there that are helping me grow. My confidence emanated from the fact that I knew I was passionate. I knew that I would work hard and I knew that I was a listener. I wasn't somebody who just talked.

I wasn't somebody who was all about doing. I would learn from people who did know, who did have a level of expertise and who cared enough to make sure they edified and elevated me to becoming who I wanted and aspire to be. And that's where my confidence usually does come from. It's not from the fact that I think I know everything because I assure you I don't. And I always know that I don't. But it does come from the fact that I know that I'm willing to listen. And the line that I use, Brian, when I give a lot of speeches is, I'm brilliant because I know I'm not. I just listen to those who are and learn from them.

That's what I've always been about and I've always been like that. Understood. And along the way, you have certain people that stood up. So people listening right now, whoever think you're a coach or you're a teacher or you're a neighbor that cares, you could really affect the lives.

It happened over and over again just by leading your story. For example, you're a real good basketball player, good enough to get to college, play Division 1 but not be a star. But your coach treated you.

Division 2, yeah. But coach treated you like one. Because you were in there, he knew you weren't going to be the best player in the team, but he saw something in you.

Coach Gaines, correct? Yes, he did. He saw, you know, he called me a rebel with a cause. And he said that, damn it, this boy wants to be somebody. And that's what he told my teammates about me when I wasn't around.

They told me he had said that. And that's why he was always so incredibly supportive of me because he saw a life in me that extended far beyond the basketball court that was going to be impactful and a difference maker. And that's what he envisioned me being and that's what he made me promise him I would be, particularly when it came to supporting HBCUs and specifically Winston-Salem State University.

And that was a problem, that was a promise I made to him and I strive to have kept it all of these years. But you made a mistake. You got hurt.

You couldn't rehab there. Your insurance didn't pick it up. So you went home, it didn't tell anybody. When you go back to the school, they were really angry at you.

Why was that and how did they eventually solve this situation? Well, I was, you know, as I point out in the book, I was incredibly sad because, you know, growing up in the streets of New York City and going through the struggles and the trials and tribulations that you go through, once you get away to college and you're in a college environment with dorms and, you know, thousands of students on campus with you and all of this other stuff, it's heaven. It really, really is heaven when they say that college can be the best four years of your life.

They're not lying because it certainly was the case for me. And I was so happy being there that when I learned I had to leave because my mother's medical insurance wouldn't cover me in North Carolina, I had to come back to New York to rehab once I sustained that knee injury where I cracked my patella in half, I was incredibly depressed. And so I said goodbye to my girlfriend. I said at the time I said goodbye to Coach Gaines and I left.

And I did not know that the head of the financial aid department had an academic scholarship waiting for me because my grades were good enough to receive an academic scholarship. He had called, never returned his call. I never answered his call because I was so depressed. So months later when I came back, he was furious. Coach Gaines looked at me because he was disappointed in me when I just quit and left school to begin with. But when I came back months later, looking to earn back my scholarship, he wouldn't allow me to do it until I spoke to that individual first. And when I went over to the financial aid department to see that his name was Mr. Hinesman, he didn't want to talk to me. And he was so rude to me that I waited in the parking lot for six hours for him to get off of work because I was determined to find out why. And he just chewed into me and said, you left.

You didn't call anybody. I had an academic scholarship waiting for you. He said you were in our face all of this time telling us that you wanted to be more than just a basketball player. But the second basketball was taken away from you, you quit. He said, you quit on yourself. You quit on the school. You quit on your family. You quit on your friends and loved ones. He said, and I never, ever in my wildest dreams believed that you would be a quitter yourself. You would quit on you. I'm ashamed of you.

And I think that outside of my mother passing away in 2017, outside of my brother passing away in a car accident in 1992, I think that's the only time I've cried in my adult life. Wow. But he took action. Put you back in. You got an assignment from Winston-Salem.

Guess where they sent you? Men's soccer. Wake Forest men's soccer.

Walt Chiswick, who is a legend in the soccer world. You walked up and you didn't pretend. You said, I don't know anything about soccer. You were so honest with him. He put the team together and said, help this guy out, whatever he needs.

Explain the game. So you had appreciation for the sport. And also you realized being honest works. Well, I always knew that from the time I was young, my mother had always instilled in us. It's a lot easier to force people to live with your truth than it is for you to live with your lies.

You know, put that on us on somebody else's shoulders. Why waste energy and expend energy trying to pretend to be something that you're not? Just tell the truth. You know, you don't have to tell everything about yourself. Everything ain't everybody's business.

But when you open your mouth, strive to be as honest as you possibly can be and compel others to live with your truth and your lies. So I've always had that mentality from the time that I was a very, very young person. So it wasn't difficult for me to go up to Walt Chiswick once I was working for the Winston-Salem Journal and they put me on that assignment to write about Wake Forest soccer. But I was to this day, I'm incredibly appreciative because he didn't have to do what he did for a head coach of a top three ranked team in the nation to call over his entire team and to implore them to give complete access to me over the span of a week.

Just so I could do a great article and put myself in a position to be a sports writer. I mean, I just can't say enough about it. It was so many years ago, but to think back to that time, he certainly didn't have to do that. It's one of the kindest gestures I can assure you that I've ever known of in this industry.

And this was before I was a professional. So all of these years that I've been a professional journalist to know and to be able to recall that level of kindness, tell you how impactful it was to me and how appreciative I am of it because, again, it's moments like that that help you get to where you are. And it's amazing, you know, how somebody's kindness can be such a contributing factor.

But it definitely was true in my case. And it's also cool that you, Stephen A. Smith, is our guest. It's great when soccer gets hot and the World Cup gets in and MLS begins to rise. You were one of the few anchors and commentators to not hate soccer and not to minimize it. You appreciated and understood it.

Now it's really helping, right? Well, listen, I would tell you, I haven't had to cover soccer in many, many years. But I know I have a pretty damn good idea what it takes to be successful in the sport. And these guys are tremendous athletes. And, you know, football is king in America. But most would tell you the real football is what they describe as being soccer in Europe.

And when you talk about a globalized sport, soccer is definitely it. And there is no question about it. And it deservedly so. A couple of things in the news, Stephen.

I want you to comment on this. The passing of Willis Reed. Here's the moment. I know you're a huge Knicks fan.

Game 7, 1970, cut 41. I think we see Willis coming out. Here he comes right now.

6 feet 10 from Gremling. The captain of the Knicks, the most valuable player of the NBA. Frazier then slows it down.

It's picked up by Jerry West at the top of the post. Reed. There's Willis Reed. Scores the first bucket here tonight. And Reed now is outside. There's his second shot. He is 2 for 2. Willis Reed.

So just what he's meant. What is your thoughts about Willis Reed? Well, as a lifelong New Yorker and a diehard lifelong Knicks fan, he's synonymous with champions. And obviously that means the world to somebody like myself, Spike Lee and other Knicks fans everywhere.

Because guess what? Last time the New York Knicks won a championship was when Willis Reed was playing in 70 and 73. And that moment that you just displayed, I mean, people forget the first four games of that series. He had scored like 37, 29, you know, 38.

And I think 29 points again. He was doing it up. Then he got injured in game five. Couldn't play in game six in back in Los Angeles.

This is against the great Jerry West, great Elgin Baylor, the great Wilt Chamberlain. And in that game seven at the Garden, no one knew whether or not he was going to play because his die was fat injured. And then he came out.

He came out. And the roar of the crowd, you saw the Lakers staring down at him. And Walt Clyde Frazier said, we knew we had them at that moment because they stopped warming up. And they were staring at Willis Reed. They couldn't take their eyes off of him.

And it had never, the Garden had never been so loud. Ultimately, Clyde Frazier saved the day. Because, I'm sorry, you know, Willis Reed hit those first two shots.

Those were his only points of the game. And then Clyde Frazier dropped 37 with 19 assists. And the New York Knicks had won their first championship. But it is without question the most iconic moment in the history of the New York Knicks franchise.

And in New York City, basketball-wise, in history, no question about it. But we're going to miss him and God bless him. All right. Besides that, Stephen, you really don't remember much about him and his career. Listen. Listen to it. Pick up his book. It's inspirational.

I don't care what kind of sports fan you are. It's great for parents. You want to give it to a kid to talk about overcoming. It's called Straight Shooter, a memoir of second chances and first takes. And also check out his podcast. It's Stephen A. Smith's No Mercy podcast. Stephen, congratulations on all your success. The best is yet to come. I appreciate you, Brian. Thank you so much for having me.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-25 00:15:08 / 2023-03-25 00:21:46 / 7

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