Stephen A. Smith opens up about depression following Naomi Osaka controversy

Stephen A. Smith doing a live ESPN segment at Wells Fargo Center (Photo by Derrel Jazz Johnson for Steed Media Service)
Stephen A. Smith doing a live ESPN segment at Wells Fargo Center (Photo by Derrel Jazz Johnson for rolling out)

Following tennis star Naomi Osaka’s recent announcement of her media boycott of the French Open, sports journalist Stephen A. Smith stated this week that he believes athletes should still participate in their media obligations. He also applauded Osaka for speaking out about mental health.

During a recent episode of ESPN’s First Take, Smith opened up about how he is still learning to cope with the passing of his mother.


“I do not want to be here, but I have a job,” Smith said. “I signed up and the NBA Playoffs are going on and people expect to hear from me.”

Smith explained that this was the fourth anniversary of his mother’s death, so he wasn’t particularly keen to be on television.


Many athletes and sports anchors have spoken on the need to bring more awareness to those dealing with depression and other mental health issues.

“You have media obligations, they are a part of your contractual obligations,” Smith said. “Because the media is what enables the sport to be promoted, and the promotion of the sport is what generates the revenue … And as a result, that’s what ultimately assists in the athletes getting paid the money that they get paid.

“Anxiety wasn’t my issue, but of course I’ve been devastatingly depressed, and I was in therapy for three years. Acknowledging what my issue was, and going to seek help, helped me to be able to come on national television and be able to articulate positions like this. Because before, I didn’t get it.”

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