Sekou Smith’s death at the end of January hit quite hard in many NBA circles, including in Atlanta, where Smith served as a Hawks beat writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution from 2005 through 2009.
On Monday, the Hawks outlined a series of plans to honor Smith’s memory, including redesigning the media workroom at State Far Arena and naming it after Smith, creating an annual award named after Smith to honor a player for the most professional interactions with the media, and establishing an annual internship in Smith’s name.
Here are the details of the ventures, per the Hawks.
- The Hawks will name the media workroom at State Farm Arena after Smith, redesigning the space to honor his memory. The Sekou Smith Press Room will formally open to media for the 2021-22 NBA season.
- Beginning at the end of this season, the Sekou Smith Award will annually honor the player on the team’s roster who best represents themselves and the franchise with professionalism and integrity in their interactions with the media. A plaque in the media workroom will display the name of each season’s honoree, and an on-court trophy presentation will be held including the winner and members of Smith’s family.
- The team will launch an annual Hawks-NBA Summer League internship in Smith’s name. Each summer, a journalism or multi-media student from a Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) school will be selected to serve as the Hawks’ beat writer for NBA Summer League, and their work will appear on the team’s digital team properties, providing valuable experience and clips. In addition to covering associated travel costs, the Hawks will provide a stipend to the intern. The SWAC is comprised of historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) including Jackson State University, Smith’s alma mater.
The franchise held a moment of silence for Smith after his passing, and also released quite a heartfelt statement.
“The Atlanta Hawks organization is heartbroken by the passing of Sekou Smith. The Hawks’ beat writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution from 2005-09, Sekou provided our fans with honest and fair coverage, sharing incredible insight on the team while establishing himself as one of the NBA’s top basketball personalities. He made Atlanta his home, continuing his brilliant work at NBA Digital on TV and behind the keyboard telling the stories of the league in his unique way. Sekou’s passion for the NBA and its players was only outmatched by the pride and love he reserved for his family and friends. We send our condolences to his wife Heather and their three children. He will be sorely missed.”
This is a classy series of decisions from the Hawks. Nothing but respect to the franchise.