Amid Naomi Osaka Controversy, Stephen A. Smith Opens Up About Having Depression
Although he believes that athletes should maintain their obligations to the media, the veteran journalist said he believes Osaka's boycott made "perfect sense."
June 02, 2021 at 4:53 am
Following tennis star Naomi Osaka’s media boycott of the French Open, reputed sports journalist Stephen A. Smith said this week that he believes athletes should uphold their media obligations, but he also applauded Osaka for speaking out about mental health.
During Tuesday’s episode of ESPN’s First Take, Smith shared that he is still learning to cope with the death of his mother, who died four years ago.
“I do not want to be here. But I have a job, I signed up and the NBA Playoffs are going on and people expect to hear from me.”
While he can relate to the need to bring more awareness to those dealing with depression and other mental health issues, Smith expressed that the media plays a critical part in growing the sports landscape.
“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.”
“But that doesn’t mean we shred our humanity and ignore the profound impact that mental health issues have and exist with all of us,” the ESPN host continued.
For the 53-year-old journalist, seeking help from professionals as he mourned his mother allowed him to get on TV and discuss his journey.
"Anxiety wasn’t my issue, but of course I’ve been devastatingly depressed, and I was in therapy for three years," Smith revealed. “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.”