The Atlanta Hawks tonight announced forward/center John Collins as the recipient of the inaugural Sekou Smith Award, which annually honors the player on the team’s roster who best represents themselves and the franchise with professionalism and integrity in their interactions with the media.
Several members of Smith’s family were in attendance at tonight’s game to take part in a pregame presentation. Collins was selected via a vote from a select local media panel.
Sadly, Smith passed away in January due to COVID-19. He was 48.
In addition to the award, the Hawks will name the media workroom at State Farm Arena after Smith, redesigning the space to honor his memory. The Sekou Smith Press Room will formally open to media for the 2021-22 NBA season.
The team will also launch an annual Hawks-NBA Summer League internship in Smith’s name. Each summer, a journalism or multi-media student from a Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) school will be selected to serve as the Hawks’ beat writer for NBA Summer League, and their work will appear on the team’s digital team properties, providing valuable experience and clips. In addition to covering associated travel costs, the Hawks will provide a stipend to the intern. The SWAC is comprised of historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) including Jackson State University, Smith’s alma mater.
Smith served as the AJC’s Hawks beat writer from 2005-09 before joining NBA Digital as a multimedia reporter and analyst. He also spent time at The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, MS and the Indianapolis Star, where he covered the Indiana Pacers as the team’s beat writer.
Photo Credit: Scott Cunningham/Hawks