“I Didn’t Know If I Was Going To Make It” | COVID Brought Death To Stephen A. Smith’s Doorstep

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After being on the sidelines, Stephen A. Smith is back on television dealing with a raucous COVID-19 infection.

“For me personally, it hit me differently,” Smith said today on his first day back to his signature show, First Take.

Smith Ravaged by COVID-19

The ESPN star personality said his COVID-19 battle was compounded with pneumonia in both his lungs. “Every night,” he also had a 103-degree fever, and that’s where things turned worse.

“I had 103 degree fever every night. Woke up with chills and a pool of sweat. Headaches were massive. Coughing profusely. And it got to a point where right before New Year’s Eve, I was in the hospital into New Year’s Day. That’s how I brought in the New Year.”

Smith was away from “First Take” for the past several weeks dealing with night sweats, fevers, headaches, and a cough. He was even thrust to spend New Year’s Day in the hospital.

At The Brink Of Hope

Smith thought he might die.

“I can’t tell you how lucky and sincerely blessed I am to be sitting here with you guys today,” Smith told his co-hosts, “because two-and-a-half, three weeks ago, I didn’t know if I was going to make it.”

Smith tested positive for the virus in mid-December. However, its strong effects hit him right before his New Year’s Eve hospitalization. Additionally, Smith said doctors told him he likely would be dead if he weren’t vaccinated.

“That’s how bad it was,” Smith said. “I had pneumonia in both lungs. My liver was bad. It ravaged me.”

The Big Comeback

Smith, though, was in good spirits in his return to TV — he trolled the hell out of the Dallas Cowboys relentlessly for their playoff loss — and he added that he’s now testing negative for the virus and is on his way to getting back to 100 percent.

“You’re assuming that you’ll have a fever, might have a cough, gonna have that massive headache — but you’ll get over it,” he said. “In a lot of cases that was the case. In my case it was totally different.

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He said that his doctors told him he would have died had he not been vaccinated.

“They told me, had I not been vaccinated, I wouldn’t be here. That’s how bad it was. I had pneumonia in both lungs. My liver was bad. It had ravaged me to the point where even now I have monitor my volume — get to the gym every day, walk before you run. Work your way back because I’m still not 100 percent with my lungs, but I’m COVID negative. I’m on the road to recovery.

Health Is Wealth

“But if it wasn’t for several doctors, I wouldn’t be here. Love and respect for what they did. Love and respect for people in the sports community and ESPN executives for checking on me every single day.”

Smith stressed the importance of wearing a mask to protect others and was surprised how even healthier lifestyle choices don’t stop the effects of the virus.

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“Everybody’s different, he said. “My sister smokes and she had COVID and she was fine in three to four days. Me? I don’t smoke and it almost took me out.

“I think the one thing to emphasize the importance of, no matter how you feel about the vaccine, that mask is important. The reason why the mask is so important is you don’t know how the next person is affected. How I’m affected is different from you are affected.

Back In The Hot Seat

Smith is the highest-profile personality on ESPN. His hot takes are a mix of his extreme character and an insider’s perspective that is taken as a cornerstone of today’s sports reporting.

“I’m ecstatic to be back. I’ve missed being at work. I’ve used more sick days in the last month than I’ve used in my 28-year career in this business combined. I don’t take many sick days, but I had to do it this month just to survive.

“And I can’t tell you how lucky and sincerely blessed I am to be sitting here today — because two-and-a-half, three weeks ago, I didn’t know if I was gonna make it.”

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Rhett Butler is a Boxing Writer Association of America Journalist, Play-By-Play Commentator, Combat Sports Insider, and Former Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing Promoter. The New York City native honed his skills at various news outlets including but not limited to: TIME Magazine, Money Magazine, CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, and more. Rhett hosts the PRITTY Left Hook podcast, a polarizing combat sports insider's take featuring the world's biggest names.