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‘You Ain’t Gotta Work No More’: Stephen A. Smith Recalls the Day He Retired His Mother as His Proudest Moment, Says Birth of Daughters ‘Is Close’

ESPN analyst and sports talk show host Stephen A. Smith has experienced some of the most thrilling sports moments in history, proudly interviewing NBA legends like Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MAY 08: Stephen A. Smith attends a playoff basketball game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Golden State Warriors at Arena on May 08, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)

Proudest Moments

However, none of those major scores is his proudest moment. ESPN’s “First Take” host stated that his proudest moment came when he told his mother he could take care of her mother.

On a recent episode of “Hotboxing with Mike Tyson,” Smith, whose current net worth is estimated at $20 million, shared a story about his mother, Janet Smith, and his changing her life after receiving his first major check. Though the 55-year-old had told the story before, the former newspaper sportswriter still got emotional thinking about this one incident with his now-deceased mother.

While talking about his top two proudest moments, he spoke about overcoming his struggles with “undiagnosed dyslexia” to become a sports columnist at the prestigious Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper. The other moment happened when he got his first ESPN show, “Quite Frankly.”

“I was hosting the talk show it was on from August of 2005 to January 2007, but I signed the deal in April. The deal was for $1.3 million per year,” he said to the champion boxer.

The change was drastic. Before this check, Hollis, Queens, native was making about $75,000 a year. Now he could do things to significantly change the lives of those he loved. He said he felt like he had made it.

“I felt that I made it because I signed the contract in the ABC offices on 66th St. in Manhattan, I drove straight back to Hollis Queens. My mother had retired as a registered nurse at Queens General Hospital, but she didn’t have any money other than a pension and savings, so she would work at the Police Athletic League down a block,” he recalled.

Smith said the post-retirement job was so she could have extra cash to go on vacations once a year.

“My proudest moment to this day was that I drove straight home … I walked right in that PAL and I grabbed my mother by the arm and I said, ‘Let’s go,’” he explained. “I looked at her boss and I said my mother’s not coming back and I drove her back home.”

His mother asked him what was happening, and he informed her of the major contract he signed. He told her that while he couldn’t pay everything, he was clear that the checks she received twice a month didn’t go far after taxes.

He said to his mother, “‘The mortgage is paid,’ I said, ‘And your vacation.’”

Smith doubled that blessing of relief by handing her two tickets to Europe.

“I said, ‘You ain’t gotta work no more. Go on and enjoy yourself. It’s my turn.’ And that to this day is the proudest moment of my life,” he declared. “There’s no other moment. … I guess my daughters being born is close … but to watch my mother struggle the way that she did all of those years trying to take care of us because my father was real negligent and didn’t do his part, to see her go through what she went through, and for me to have that moment …”

The only thing that would have been better, in Smith’s opinion, is if his mother would have survived to see him get his biggest check from the network in 2019.

He says he would have really spoiled her, buying her a dream house she wanted in Saint Thomas.

According to Sporting News, the 2019 contract with ESPN was for $8 million a year, making him the highest-paid personality on the network. This contract is expanded, with the network adding a bonus of $4 million in a production contract.

Still, with a solid eight-figure pay-out, in 2023 Smith sees that other white colleagues are negotiating larger contracts than his, bumping him down.

White YouTuber Pat McAfee recently locked in a reported $17 million per year contract to bring his “Pat McAfee Show” to the network.

While he could be distracted by pocket-watching others, Smith believes this is a time to secure his value to the company and capitalize on it later.

“My contract is up in two years. I’ll have my opportunities to get my own,” Smith said. “You know anything about me, you know how I like my money, right? How much of a capitalist I am, right? You think I’m looking at Pat McAfee and I’m upset? I’m thankful! Thank you! Appreciate it bro, thank you very, very much. Today is your turn. Tomorrow’s mine.”

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