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On November 7, sports personality Stephen A. Smith brought ESPN’s First Take to his alma mater Winston Salem State University (WSSU).
The Black Wall Street Times was present to capture the historic moment.
“It’s good to be home,” Stephen A. Smith
The proud Ram continued, “I wouldn’t be where I am today without WSSU.”
Commenting on the amount of overflowing emotions of returning in this capacity, Smith said, “It’s one of the most humbling experiences I’ve ever felt in my life.”
As a member of the class of 1992, Smith not only relayed the importance of education, but specifically HBCUs.
Savannah State alum Shannon Sharpe later reiterated, “You can get to anywhere from an HBCU and don’t let nobody tell you you can’t.”
Smith noted the integral function of HBCUs, stating they were a “place founded to educate Black folks when no one else would.” Founded in 1892, Smith is one of many students once molded by WSSU since its inception.
Providing a rare peek behind the curtain, Smith revealed WSSU was a place he suffered some of his greatest losses but greatest Gaines.
Paying homage to the legendary Clarence “Big House” Gaines, Smith spoke glowingly of the basketball icon he once knew personally.
Like a true HBCU alum, Smith dodged questions about past Homecoming escapades and instead reflected on once hitting 17 three-pointers in a row in the gym.
Smith also admitted it was the one and only time he’d accomplished such a feat.
Over thirty years removed from WSSU, Smith gave words of wisdom in the very gymnasium named after a man who was his very own guiding light.
From cracking his patella and effectively ending his basketball career only feet away from where he now spoke, Smith reminisced on the many lessons learned at his alma mater.
First Take is not the last take
Smith affirmed he will continue to utilize his platform for purpose, saying, “I’m nowhere near done yet.”
Smith, along with the NBA today announced that the Virginia Union University Panthers (VUU) and WSSU Rams men’s basketball programs have been selected to compete in the 2024 NBA HBCU Classic presented by AT&T.
The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) matchup will take place on Saturday, Feb. 17 at 2 p.m. ET at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana as part of NBA All-Star 2024.
The WSSU Rams men’s basketball are the defending CIAA champions.
The third NBA HBCU Classic will be simulcast on TNT, ESPN2 and NBA TV.
A time was had
As Smith and Sharpe debated sports topics of the day, SU students, alumni, and faculty soaked up game from two of the most talented talkers of our time.
Though supported by an entire crew, Smith looked to his family to keep him picture perfect.
As the Red Sea of Sound serenaded the crowd and matched the moment’s energy, Sharpe and Smith have elevated not only sports conversation, but the visibility of both Savannah State and Winston Salem State University.