ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith shares life lessons with ASU students

Former ESPN announcer Stephen A. Smith gave a speech and answered questions at ASU's Sun Devil Fitness Complex on March 25. (Photo by Mario Mendez) Former ESPN announcer Stephen A. Smith gave a speech and answered questions at ASU's Sun Devil Sports Complex on March 25. (Photo by Mario Mendez)

Students gathered Tuesday in the Sun Devil Sports Complex at the Tempe campus to listen to ESPN personality Stephen A. Smith speak on the importance of self confidence as a way to succeed in life.

He has a résumé that includes the New York Daily News, the Philadelphia Inquirer and ESPN.

As Smith entered the gymnasium, the crowd erupted into cheers and chants. Some students even gave him a standing ovation as he walked to the stage.

On his way to the podium, he stopped to greet a handicapped man in a wheelchair in the front row. He thanked the young man for coming to see him and then proceeded.

When he appeared on stage, the crowd chanted things such as “You’re the man!” and “I love you Stephen!”

“College is the best years of your life and that’s not an exaggeration,” Smith said. “But I am here to talk to you about the real world.”

He said growing up he dreamed of becoming an NBA player, but he lacked the skills on the court.This inability didn’t stop him from being involved with the NBA though.

Smith said all he had to do was re-evaluate his path and align it with his skills.This is what he told the audience they needed to discover.

“There is a lot of people along the way that will tell you that you can be whoever you want to be,” he said. "That’s a damn lie. You cannot be what you want to be. You know what you can be? What your gift dictates you can be.”

Perhaps one of the most important and prominent lessons Smith discussed in his presentation was that of self-reliance.

“You are about you. You have to adopt that attitude and do it unapologetically,” he said. "It's about knowing who you are, what you stand for, what you want and what you’re willing to give to get it.”

Smith drew a large crowd that filled the court at the fitness center. The majority of the crowd was made up of men.

Philosophy freshman Roshauk Vanaki said he came to see Smith because he is a fan.

“I watch his shows a lot on ESPN," he said. "I think he is really funny, and I enjoy watching him; that’s why I came to see him today.”

Isom Goodwine, a former basketball player for Southern University and A&M; College in Louisiana, was also in attendance.

"I've always been a fan (of Smith), and I've followed him and his work since college," he said.

Reach the reporter at or follow her on Twitter @ashleyincardone

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