GRCC honors life, legacy of journalist Sekou Smith with 2021 Distinguished Alumnus Award

Grand Rapids Community College alumnus Sekou Smith smiling.

This article was originally posted in GRCC News on April 27, 2021

Grand Rapids Community College alumnus Sekou Smith’s life was cut short by COVID-19, but family members say they want graduates to be inspired by his passion for helping others succeed.

GRCC commencement ceremonies on Friday and Saturday will include a tribute to the sports journalist and community leader. Smith, who attended Grand Rapids Junior and Grand Rapids Community colleges between 1990 and 1992, is being honored as this year’s Distinguished Alumnus.

After leaving GRCC, he attended Jackson State University in Mississippi, where he became interested in journalism. His sports writing career started at The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson; he then covered the Indianapolis Pacers for the Indianapolis Star and then the Atlanta Hawks for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Smith connected with the NBA’s media teams in 2009. In recent years, he served as an analyst for NBA TV and a writer for He penned the “MVP Weekly” column and hosted the popular “Hang Time” podcast.

His death in January at the age of 48 brought tributes from NBA stars, his writing colleagues and the many young professionals he had mentored over the years through such organizations as the National Association of Black Journalists, Athletes for Computer Science, and Mercantile Bank leadership camps.

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