Stephen A. Smith

With Stephen A. Smith surprisingly absent from First Take when the show began Monday morning, the ESPN host announced he’s in the middle of his second bout with COVID-19.

Smith shared the news via Twitter, stating he’s doing better than the last time he had COVID and proceeded to mock his First Take replacements for the day, making it clear that he’s upset about missing work.

Smith tested positive for COVID late last year, making the announcement while hosting First Take remotely. After initially experiencing mild symptoms, Smith’s bout with the virus quickly took a turn for the worse. Smith ended up being off-air for nearly a month and when he returned, the First Take host offered scary details about what turned into a life-threatening experience with COVID.

“I had a 103-degree fever every night. Woke up with chills and a pool of sweat,” Smith described when he returned to First Take from his first battle with COVID in late January. “Headaches were massive. Coughing profusely. And it got to a point that right before New Year’s Eve, I was in the hospital New Year’s Eve into New Year’s Day. That’s how I brought in the New Year…[Doctors] told me, had I not been vaccinated, I wouldn’t be here.”

“That’s how bad it was,” Smith continued. “I had pneumonia in both lungs. My liver was bad. And it ravaged me to the point where even now I have monitor my volume, gotta get to the gym every day, walk before you run and work your way back because I’m still not 100 percent with my lungs, but I’m Covid negative. I’m on the road to recovery.”

Smith previously spoke about his initial reservations with the vaccine, but he later became a strong advocate for the jab after being convinced by a doctor that it was the right decision. Even following his own frightening experience with COVID, Smith remained a strong advocate for the vaccine, preaching the fact that doctors told him it was the jab saved his life.

During a recent interview on Bill Maher’s podcast, Smith still sounded grateful for his decision to get vaccinated, but he did wonder whether it was effective for him considering his near-death experience with COVID despite being double-vaccinated. Hopefully, Smith’s second bout with the virus goes much smoother and he’s back on-air soon.

[Stephen A. Smith]

About Brandon Contes

Brandon Contes is a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He previously helped carve the sports vertical for Mediaite and spent more than three years with Barrett Sports Media. Send tips/comments/complaints to