Smith worked for NBA TV and wrote for NBA.com since 2009.
“We are all heartbroken over Sekou’s tragic passing,” Turner Sports, which broadcasts and operates NBA TV ad NBA.com, said in a statement. “His commitment to journalism and the basketball community was immense and we will miss his warm, engaging personality.”
Smith covered the NBA for more than twenty years, including 11 years with Turner Sports, which, like CNN, is owned by WarnerMedia.
“The NBA mourns the passing of Sekou Smith, a beloved member of the NBA family. Sekou was one of the most affable and dedicated reporters in the NBA and a terrific friend to so many across the league,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement.
“Sekou’s love of basketball was clear to everyone who knew him and it always shined through in his work. Our heartfelt condolences go to his wife, Heather, and their children, Gabriel, Rielly and Cameron,” Silver said.
Smith started his career in journalism as a sports reporter at The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1994, according to his LinkedIn profile. He then worked four years each at The Indianapolis Star and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution before joining Turner Sports.
Beloved in the basketball community, Smith’s death — on the anniversary of Kobe Bryant’s passing just one year ago — received numerous tributes from players and coaches alike.
Stan Van Gundy, head coach of the New Orleans Pelicans, had known Smith since his time at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He called him a “great man” in a message posted to Twitter.
“While I’ve known him since he was with the AJC but was lucky to work with him at NBA TV,” Van Gundy wrote. “I got to know him well enough to know 3 things — I was lucky to spend time with him, I wanted to know him better and he was a good man.”
Dwyane Wade, retired Miami Heat legend, echoed those sentiments.
“I’ve never had anything but positive interactions and conversations with Sekou Smith,” he said. “Our prayers go out to the Smith family. We lost a good one. Rest In Heaven.”
And in Smith’s adopted hometown of Atlanta, the Hawks shared a few words on his passing, as Smith covered the team for five years.
“The Hawks organization is heartbroken by the passing of Sekou Smith. The Hawks’ beat writer for the AJC from 05-09, Sekou provided our fans with honest & fair coverage, sharing incredible insight on the team while establishing himself as one of the NBA’s top personalities,” the team said.
Lloyd Pierce, head coach of the Hawks, said in a post game interview on Tuesday that it had been a tough day, with both Bryant’s anniversary and the news about Smith, calling him “about as genuine a person as there is in the industry.”
Smith is survived by his wife Heather and their three children Gabriel, Reilly and Cameron.