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Stephen A. Smith overcame dyslexia, ‘doubters’ on his road to success

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith is recognized around the world for his outspoken nature and brash sports takes, but in an interview on “Hannity,” Smith delved into the quieter moments of his career, moments that viewers may not have previously known.

Smith explores those experiences in his new “triumph-to-tragedy” book, “Straight Shooter: A Memoir of Second Chances and First Takes.”

Fox News host Sean Hannity explained that Smith, who struggled with dyslexia, was held back in both third and fourth grade. A young Smith then overheard painful words from his father.

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“He said, ‘The boy ain’t smart. He’s just not going to do anything with his life. Get over it.’ He told my mother that, and I heard him say it,” Smith told Hannity. “But I have to admit to you that as painful as it was to hear that combined with the laughter from the kids on the block just minutes earlier, it was an incredible source of motivation.”

His father’s words prompted Smith to “exceed expectations, make liars out of doubters and to excel to heights unknown, unseen and unimagined.” Smith argued such a moment was pivotal to guiding him to where he finds himself today.

“Knowing that my father felt that way about me and he had such little faith in me, I believe that was the start of a level of determination that I have never let go of in my entire life,” said Smith. “A lot of times as adults, we take into account and we think about the effect things could have on children and how lingering of effect that can be. But guess what? It’s not always negative.”

Smith revealed that support from his mother and sisters helped him overcome his childhood challenges. Smith also credited his teacher, Mr. Caravan, for believing in him and his ability to be a “star” if he found what interested him.

For Smith, that interest was sports.

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“Once I read sports and watched sports and really, really comprehended what was going on, it built my confidence in other areas. I’m reading news, I’m reading politics, are reading current events, I’m reading, you know, a lot of different things that I would never do,” Smith said.

Smith’s passion for sports elevated his confidence and his career. Working his way up the ranks, Smith is reportedly now one of the highest-paid broadcasters in the industry and one of the most well-known faces in sports media.

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