Sunday, March 7, 2021

One final dap to Sekou Smith and Terez Paylor.

February 21, 2021 by  
Filed under News, Opinion, Sports, Weekly Columns

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( One of the many great things about sports is how communal it can be. It can bring together people of different backgrounds, areas, and experiences while rooting for the same team or enjoying the individual performances of an incredible athlete. The sports industry is one of the largest entertainment industries on the planet as some sportswriters have become as well-known as the professional athletes that they cover or write about.

Black sportswriters are as important as ever given the notoriety of many Black professional sports figures and they can reveal a perspective, lens, or insight that is hidden by their white counterparts. Sadly, over the last 30 days, the Black sports writing community lost two Black men at relatively young ages at time when their talents were flourishing and their futures seemed as bright as ever. Their departure is particularly striking for me in many ways despite never meeting either in person throughout their lives.

Terez Paylor was a senior NFL writer for Yahoo Sports. It is significant hold that title as a Black journalist for the most popular sport in the United States and Paylor took his career seriously. He consistently conducted quality interviews and presented NFL news in a way that could be digested by casual and hardcore NFL fans. He was originally from Detroit and was a graduate from famed HBCU, Howard University. His discussions on the Yahoo Sports NFL Podcast with fellow Yahoo NFL journalist Charles Robinson were relatable in that they seemed more like friends than journalists breaking and analyzing the latest football news. Paylor’s cadence and appearance were even more relatable in my instance due to his glasses and laugh. He tragically died suddenly at age of 37 years old.


Sekou Smith was a longtime NBA reporter and writer for His articles covered the talents and stories of the NBA players for years and his knowledge of basketball extended deeply. His work on was a terrific blend of rational analysis and his inquisitive personality. His personality shined even brighter as an NBA TV analyst when he delivered news, insight on players and teams, and surveilled the NBA landscape. For years, viewers watched his smart and fun NBA analysis on NBA TV. Like myself, he was also a Michigan native with a passion for his state and sports. He passed at the age of 48 due to COVID-19, as another painfully sad reminder that the people dying of this pandemic are not just numbers but actual lives who have touched people.


Not surprisingly, the losses of these two men were felt by The National Association of Black Journalists and Black journalists throughout the sports world. Regarding the passing of Sekou Smith on January 26th, the NABJ said in a statement, “The passing of Sekou Smith due to COVID-19 complications hits so many members of the NABJ Sports family extremely hard. He was more than a colleague; he was a friend and brother to us, and so many others.” Terez Paylor passed on February 9th and he was an active member of the Kansas City Association of Black Journalists. Remember to enjoy the precious process of life and those who leave an imprint with you as Sekou Smith and Terez Paylor did through their writing and work.

Staff Writer; Mark Hines

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