We’ve seen lots of errors from Stephen A. Smith on First Take over the years, but one particularly notable one Friday was about one of his coworkers. After talking about Clemson quarterback DJ Uiagalelei, Smith said his name was too hard to pronounce, which made it tough to talk about him as a Heisman contender.
Stephen A. Smith on D.J. Uiagalelei's name: "I don't know how to pronounce the damn thing!" pic.twitter.com/V8IVTYpgiA
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That led to First Take host Molly Qerim asking Smith how her last name is pronounced, and he got it wrong:
Molly Qerim put Stephen A on the spot to pronounce her last name correctly.
Quite frankly, it did not go well. pic.twitter.com/InSEHJYCSQ
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Qerim says “Talking about pronouncing names, let’s do a thought experiment. Can you pronounce my last name for the audience?” Smith says “Keer-im,” Qerim laughs and says “No, it’s not Keer-im, it’s Care-im,” and Marcus Spears concurs. Smith then tries to claim that’s what he said: “Care-im! Isn’t that what I just said, Care-im?” Qerim says “It’s okay, we’ve only worked together for like seven years, it’s fine.” Smith keeps going “Didn’t I say Care-im?”, and Qerim says “I just wanted to make sure the quarterback’s not offended. Because we’ve only been working together for this many years and you still don’t know how to say my last name,” as Spears cracks up.
Mispronunciations happen, but this was a particularly funny one considering that Qerim has been on First Take since 2015. But least Smith now knows how Qerim’s name is pronounced. And if he needs to talk about Uiagalelei in the future, it’s “oo-ee-ANH-gah-leh-lay,” as per a 2020 Sporting News piece from Billy Heyen.
As Uiagalelei said back then, though, plenty of people were getting his name wrong: “I’ve heard a lot (of people butchering the last name), probably, I mean. But for me, I think like Wiggly Lee (was the worst). I’ve heard Wiggly Lee one time, I forgot who said something like that. Like Wiggly Lee. I never heard that type of pronunciation.” At least Smith didn’t do exactly that one.