Stephen A. Smith Shares Hilarious Story About Being Let Go By ESPN And Humbling Himself

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There is perhaps no bigger personality in the world of sports media than that of ESPN superstar Stephen A. Smith.

Smith, who signed a five-year, $40 million contract with the network in 2019, is the star of its morning program, particularly the show ‘First Take.’

What he sometimes lacks in insightfulness, Smith more than makes up for with energy and enthusiasm. There’s no topic that he won’t discuss and no subject that he won’t have some sort of take on.

Love him or hate him, people tune in to watch Stephen A. Smith.

But that wasn’t always the case. Smith began his career at ESPN in 2005 he was the host of “Quite Frankly with Stephen A. Smith.” The show ended in 2007 and then appeared in various other roles in 2009 before parting ways with the company.

But what went wrong?

Smith discussed just that on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Monday while promoting his upcoming book “Straight Shooter: A Memoir of Second Chances and First Takes.”

“One of those second chances was at ESPN,” Colbert said. “You were let go in 2009. What happened, Stephen?”

At which point Smith launched into a hilarious story.

“Man, I wanted more money,” Smith said. “And they said ‘no.’ I thought I was worthy of more. They said ‘we don’t think so. Good luck trying to prove otherwise.’ They were right. I was wrong, at the time.”

Colbert then asked Smith when he realized he might be wrong, which is when Smith really turned up the humor.

“How ’bout a day later after I got let go. If I’m being totally honest. I mean it kinda helped when my mother said ‘you kinda deserved it. I mean you were acting up and stuff like that.’ (She) put a mirror on my tray when she served my breakfast and said ‘you kind of deserved it, ya know? So, I mean humble yourself. Look in the mirror. Think about what you need to do better and then come back and talk to me.’

“And so, I looked at that. I thought about it. And then I plotted and planned and I recognized that the biggest mistake I made was that I didn’t master my own business. I thought I was worth more than I was. I didn’t know definitively. So in the years to follow, I made sure I knew. And as a result of knowing, I’m here.”

Smith may not be everybody’s cup of tea. But it’s that mix of confidence, humility and self-effacing humor that has turned him into a superstar. And he’s not going anywhere anytime soon.