The Atlanta Hawks will honor the memory of former team beat writer and NBATV analyst Sekou Smith on a more permanent basis, the team announced recently.
Smith’s reputation of “dedicated journalism, building relationships and mentoring young journalists,” motivated the Hawks to honor his legacy in three ways.
According to NBA.com, starting with the 2021-22 NBA season, the press room at the Hawks’ State Farm Arena will be renamed the Sekou Smith Press Room. The space will also be redesigned to honor Smith’s memory.
The Sekou Smith Award will be given out at the end of every season, which will honor the Hawks player who “best represents themselves and the franchise with professionalism and integrity in their interactions with the media.” The name of each winner will be added to a plaque, which will be displayed in the soon-to-be renamed press room, and the award will be presented on the court with members of Smith’s family present. The first Sekou Smith Award will be given out at the end of the 2020-21 season.
Last week, John Collins was announced as the winner of the Inaugural Sekou Smith Award.
Tonight, John Collins was awarded the inaugural Sekou Smith Award. This award honors JC’s professionalism and integrity during interactions with media.— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) May 28, 2021
Congrats, @jcollins20_ 🙌 pic.twitter.com/d8CNFFElN3
The Hawks are also establishing an annual summer league internship in Smith’s name. A journalism or multimedia student from a Southwestern Athletic Conference school will be chosen to become the Hawks’ beat writer for the NBA Summer League, and their work will appear on the team’s website. The Hawks will cover all associated travel costs and provide a stipend to the chosen student. Smith’s alma mater, Jackson State University, is part of the Southwestern Athletic Conference, as are numerous other historically Black colleges and universities.
Sekou was the Hawks beat writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution from 2005-09 prior to joining NBATV as a multimedia reporter and analyst. He also covered the Indiana Pacers as a beat writer for the Indianapolis Star.
Sekou Smith passed away on January 26 at the age of 48 due to complications from COVID-19.