Stephen A. Smith Speaks at UAB

By on March 5, 2014

For Black History Month, Student Activity Services had a speaker come and talk at the Alys Stephens Center. Originally, they were bringing Lee Daniels to talk. Lee Daniels cancelled his lecture. The back-up speaker was ESPN sports journalist Stephen A Smith. He is most known for being the host ESPN First Take. His speech was about an hour and a half. He talked about life situations like how you need to make things happen for yourself, how everything relates back to money, credibility, diversity and be straight forward.

Stephen Smith grew up in New York City in 1967. He said in his lecture that one dream of his was to play professional basketball. He realized that that would not be able to come true. “All your life, people told you that you can be whatever you want to be… that is 100% not true. You can be only do certain things with the skills you possess. For example, if you have problems with memorization, you can’t be a doctor.” His big thing is keeping it real and not sugar coat anything. He said, “One of his best messages was, never expect people to do anything for you, so you have to do it for yourself. Whatever you want in life, you have to go get it and accomplish it yourself,” he said.

He started the speech off by saying everything relates back to money. The one example that he gave that shocked everybody was immigration reform. He paused, and then said, “Have you ever wondered why we give them a chance to come in this country and get health care, become citizens and get food stamps… money!”

Another example he gave was us UAB students, we are paying money to get an education so we can get a promising career. He said, “there is a different between a job and a career. A job is what you do to get by and pay your bills. A career is something you do, day by day, and you enjoy it. You can pay the bills but it never feels like you work a day in your life.”

“One of the most important things in life is being credible,” he said. Credibility is something that doesn’t not come easy. He talked about being credible in the sports industry and especially in the media industry. That’s important to be credible and stay credibly because one you lose your credibility; it is very tough to get your credibility back. He also talked about in certain situations that may you look less credible and you will be judged. He gave an example on when ESPN let him go. He said, “it was so awkward when I came back. People looked at you different once you leave and come back. That’s also how credibility works.”

Since he was talking about Black History Month, he brought up growing up as an African-American man. He related it back to UAB. He spoke about how many different nationalities we have currently attending school here. UAB has students from over 60 countries. “You are already ahead of other universities because of the diversity you students currently we have on campus,” he said.

The last thing Smith brought up before he opened it up to questions was to be straight forward. The one quality he has personally and on ESPN is being very straightforward. Smith never sugarcoats anything.

“You guys don’t need to sugarcoat anything. Never beat around the bush on anything. The best thing you can do is be straight forward and then explain your explanation,” Smith said.

After Smith’s speech, he opened the floor up for questions. Smith said he wanted to stay and hear all the questions from the audience and answer them all. The questions ranged from asking his opinion on the parody of him on Saturday Night Live, NBA Championship, growing up as an African American, to what does he think of Skip Bayless.

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