As part of ESPN’s NFL Draft coverage, reporter Shelley Smith has made a triumphant return to the airwaves after a battle with breast cancer.  Smith is reporting from Hawaii to cover Oregon QB Marcus Mariota from his home in Hawaii as he will be one of the top picks in the 2015 rendition not making the trip to Chicago.

Waikiki Beach sure does beat a lot of other on-site locations to report on the NFL Draft, doesn’t it?

In a great piece of news, Smith told Sports Illustrated earlier this month she was pretty much cancer free at this point in her battle.  She first made the announcement she was battling breast cancer in October 2014 and had been off the air for the last several months.

To mark her return to ESPN, Smith penned this first-person piece for ESPN Front Row which included this inspiring passage:

In short – well not really – it’s been an experience that has made me stronger and given me a better understanding of how people really can help others. Even Twitter has been a godsend – nights when I can’t sleep – I read all the posts of support and smile. Really, nobody has been mean to me since I announced Oct. 1. There’s that!

The company has been amazing, too. I didn’t have to ask whether it was OK if I went bald on the air. They called one day and asked if I wanted to do the draft and that they would welcome my shaved head. That shows me they understand what this is all about. I’m proud to be an ESPNer.

And as I get ready to go back on the air from wonderful Honolulu, I count my many blessings. One big one is that in the course of deciding on treatment for my breast cancer, my oncologist found a melanoma which he said would have killed me in two years. It was on the back of my shoulder and I doubt I would have seen it. I had it successfully removed and now get my skin checked every six months. Melanoma is a very scary cancer. Early detection is so crucial with that kind of cancer as well. It killed my good friend Bryan Burwell and my hero Dr. Jack Ramsay. It’s nothing to mess with.

It’s going to be a great week for Marcus Mariota to be sure, but also for me. I go in strong and confident that I will be even better on air than I was (or I’ll have a complete meltdown. . . tune in to see which!)

I wear no hair as a sign of strength, a sign that I am so fortunate to work for a company that cares and moreover, that I have a fight.

And at least, for once, I won’t have to worry about the wind!

Like TNT’s Craig Sager, Smith’s journey has touched many people both inside and outside of the sports world.  Her return to ESPN will certainly be one of the highlights of this week’s draft coverage.

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