Grand Rapids Honors Sekou Smith with Street Naming Ceremony

Deondre Jones, Staff Report From Georgia CEO

Monday, May 20th, 2024

Deondre Jones is the Atlanta Hawks Sekou Smith Summer Intern for 2024. Each summer, a journalism or multi-media student from a Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) school is selected to serve as the Hawks’ beat writer for NBA Summer League, and their work appears on the team’s digital team properties, providing valuable experience. Smith served as the AJC’s Hawks beat writer from 2005-09 before joining NBA Digital as a multimedia reporter and analyst. He also spent time at The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, MS and the Indianapolis Star, where he covered the Indiana Pacers as the team’s beat writer.

The City of Grand Rapids paid tribute to the late Sekou Smith, esteemed NBA journalist, by unveiling Sekou Smith Way on Wednesday, May 15th, which would have marked his 52nd birthday. 

Smith, a beloved figure within the NBA community, left an indelible mark on the sport through his insightful reporting, unwavering passion, and genuine love for the game. His untimely passing in January 2021 deeply saddened many fans, colleagues, and players alike, leaving behind a legacy that continues to inspire. Smith was the creator of ‘Hangtime’ podcast and host of ‘Gametime’ and ‘The Beat’ for NBA TV.

“This is a beautiful honor for a legendary sportswriter. I miss Sekou dearly. We started covering the NBA around the same time,” said 2023 Curt Gowdy Print Media award winner Marc J. Spears. “I miss calling him to talk about basketball and life while always finding laughter in the process. He’s gone too soon but will never be forgotten. It takes an amazing and extraordinary human to have anything named after you. Sekou definitely was the definition of that.”

The decision to name a street after Smith is a testament to his profound impact, not only within the realm of basketball but also within the communities he touched. Grand Rapids, his hometown, proudly honors his memory by immortalizing his name on the street that he grew up on which will serve as a perpetual reminder of his contributions and the values he embodied.

His sister, Misti Stanton, expressed that it's been a long time coming. “We've been advocating for the city to honor Sekou by naming the street he grew up on after him, and we're thrilled that it's finally happened." 

The unveiling ceremony, scheduled on his birthday, is a poignant moment for those who knew and admired Smith. It brought together friends, family, colleagues, and fans to celebrate his life and legacy, ensuring that his spirit lives on in the hearts of all who were touched by his kindness, wisdom, and infectious enthusiasm.

“We all will one day leave this place, right? And for someone to be able to advocate for who you were as a person, your character, and your integrity within your profession … To be able to do that for somebody who was not only my baby brother, but who was a great man, it felt like I was honoring his life both as a professional writer and as a person,” said Stanton.

“Having a street in his beloved hometown named in his honor is another way his legacy will be kept alive,” Spears said. “Sure, he humbly would be uncomfortable with it, but, his story needs to forever be told and every time someone drives down this street his book is opened again.

As Sekou Smith Way was unveiled, it will serve as more than just a street name; it will symbolize the enduring impact of a man whose dedication to his craft and genuine humanity left an indelible mark on the world of basketball and beyond.