Kenny Smith wasn’t on set for TNT’s basketball broadcasts on Wednesday night. He was at home with his family mourning the death of his mother, Annie Mae Smith.
Inside the NBA host Ernie Johnson announced Smith’s absence and gave an emotional speech about his mother on Wednesday night.
“When Kenny and I spoke today I asked him what he would want everybody to know about his mom,” Johnson said during a special segment at the half of the Bulls/Celtics Game 5. “He paused and said he wanted to write a few things down and get back to me.”
Here’s what Smith wrote:
I love my mom because first and foremost she introduced religion and the power of prayer in my life. There’s absolutely nothing that’s happened in my life—nothing—that we didn’t pray about. Growing up I’d talk to her every day. Sometimes short, sometimes long. I guess you could say I’m a momma’s boy. Lol.
Her unconditional belief in me always gave me confidence. You wanna be class president? You can. Wanna make As in school? You should, you have all the tools. NBA? No problem.
She was at every event, every game, and every moment. More importantly, on her passing, she made me feel alive. Our talks made me excited and grateful and want to conquer and move forward. I will always keep that and promise to stay alive and give that to my wonderful wife and children, relatives and friends in her honor.
I hope when I’m around you or anyone from this point on, I make them feel the same way she made me feel every day: alive. Thank you, mom.
Johnson was emotional during his delivery of Smith’s words, and the rest of the Inside the NBA crew was silent. In the past, Johnson has spoken about how faith and family have played into his own life, so it was clearly a passionate moment for the close-knit staff on a tough day for many in media.
Few live television shows can go from moments of laughter and fun to serious concerns so quickly and so well, and Johnson definitely did The Jet proud here.