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I got a responsibility to be better. I'm in takeover mode. The doctors had said to me, You're 50. This is how it's going to be. Nah, my days of taking shortcuts is over. I'm in the best shape that I've been in in 25 years. I'm not going back. Ultimate human.


Hi, welcome back to the ultimate human podcast. I'm your host, Gary Breca, human biologist, where we go down the road of everything anti-aging, longevity, biohacking, and everything in between. Do we have a show for you today? A very good friend of mine that really doesn't need any introduction, he may be the most powerful voice in all of sports media, best known as an executive producer on ESPN's first take on Analyst on NBA Countdown, ESPN and ABC's longstanding NBA pregame show. Again, one of the most powerful voices in all sports media. He is a New York Times bestselling author, a book that I'm going to talk about in the podcast, which is a must read not for the sports fanatics alone, but for people that are just looking to learn more about how life's journeys shape you. He's also a podcaster. He's somebody that I would like to call a personal friend. He's deeply authentic. He's real, he's visceral, he's known for his commentary, and again, a very personal friend of mine. Welcome to the show, Stephen A.


Smith. What's up, my brother? You are looking chiseled, brother.


You came in and he came in in the cropped hoodie. I was like, Oh, we're about to break it down now. Nine and a half months into our journey now.


Yeah. Nine and.


A half months.


I can't say enough about where I'm at right now. Listen, I don't say this often. There ain't too many people in this world to think, but you are a friend, and I love you for what you've done for me personally. Thank you. I never saw this coming, to be quite honest with you. I saw the interview that you did with Dana White, and we go back to just rewind the audience and just remind them what happened. You had given Dana White, the head of the USC, about 10.4 years to live, if I remember correctly. Right. And I remember when I called Dana and I told him I wanted him to introduce me to you because I knew what bad shape Dana was in. Because I've known Dana for a while and he was never shy about confiding in me in terms of what he was going through. I wanted him to introduce me to you. I literally just came to you because I had two missions. Number one, I wanted to get rid of these headaches. In number two, I wanted to lower my cholesterol.


I remember the day you walked into my condo in Miami, I was like, this is a guy on a mission. Because you were very specific about your goals, and you were very specific about laying out what you wanted to get out of working together. You were like, Can you do this for me? Let me know right now.


The interesting thing, and this is things that you didn't know for the first few months until you got to know me and we really got to cultivate our relationship. Again, I was having headaches every day, and I would have headaches every day when I woke up, spanning practically my entire adult life, spanning over 30 years. You just learned to deal with it. And I just learned to deal with it, weed it off, work it off. And as the day would progress, it would subside a little bit or whatever. But when you've got a lot of headaches and stuff like that, your temperament is compromised, your focus is compromised. You think about things along those lines. I just wanted those things to heal. And then I knew that I had bad cholesterol. My numbers were at 280, 284. It had got to a point where I had to jump to about 301. I said it was just those things. The first thing you said is, Let's take your bloods. I said, Only under one condition. I do not want to know how long I have to live. I know, you didn't say that. I said, I don't want to hear that.


You were the polar opposite of data white. I want to hear that. Let the Lord take me. When he going to take me? Don't tell me. Don't tell me. Don't tell me. That is exactly what he said. You told me, you said, You don't have, it's not dehydration. You're not dehydration. It's that you don't have enough sodium. I started taking the powder with my water, and I went three months without a headache.


I remember when you called me and you were like, Could it.


Work that fast? I asked you. I said, That's fine. Then we were talking about cholesterol. You said, Well, here's your problem. You said your blood is swimming in sugar, and we got to address that. All of a sudden, I went on that mission. You were pre-diabetic at that time. The vitamins, it was the supplements. I was pre-diabetic. They say when your A1C levels are at 6:4, you're diabetic, full-blown. I was at 6:3 when I saw you. When I started following your plan, the next thing you know, I started losing some weight. I start feeling more energetic, and my belly was going down. Yeah, I remember hearing it. And I have a picture that I look at, and I'll show it to you. I have a picture that I look at every morning.


Maybe we throw up some pre and post- That's right. -so people can see the journey. There's a lot of people listening to this- Without question. -that are identifying with what you're saying. They're like, Look, my sugars are out of control. I've got headaches every day, and I've just learned to deal with them. I often talk about how people get to a certain age, and they just chalk these things up to a consequence of aging. Right. You know what I mean? I'm supposed to have headaches. I'm supposed to feel lethargic or have poor short-term recall. I'm not supposed to be sleeping that well.


That's what I was when I came to you. Part of aging. Because the doctors had said to me, Look, man, you're over 50. Look, man, this is how it's going to be. This is how it's supposed to be. I would look at them and I'm like, No. You get to a point where you resign yourself to the fact because you try so many different things, different supplements, different exercises, etc, But everything works in combination with one another. And so when I met with you and you talked to me about the regimen that I needed to get on, this is the amazing part. You can be the most brilliant doctor in the world. If all you have to show forward are numbers, no one's going to buy in. Because we're visual creatures and we want to see the results. Otherwise, we're just not going to be. So it's nice to go to the doctor and.


Say, You're numbers are right. That's why you're sitting here in a sleeveless.


I'm just saying. But it was like, once I started seeing the results, all of a sudden, it was a lifestyle change. Because now I'm in the gym six days a week. Now I'm lifting five days a week. I'm calling my trainer to work out. I'm available. Let's go. I'm getting on video. I'm doing pilates. I'm running. I'm doing all of these things. But it all started with seeing you telling me what my blood showed and what I needed to do. And when I started following that regimen and I saw the progress, it inspired me to do what I'm doing in every other fast. And I sit here today, I'm not even finished yet. I've lost 30 pounds. My cholesterol numbers have dropped by about 100. I remember I was - More.


Than 100 now.


Your cholesterol is perfect. -looking at 100. My insulin insulin levels. Perfect. Went from like a 27 to two.


Twenty-seven is insulin-resistant for those people, people, listen, don't know what those numbers mean. That means that you were insulin-resistant. You were continuing to to more insulin, but not bringing the blood sugar down. The blood sugar was high. The three-month average of the blood sugar was high, and the body was producing more and more insulin. This was just further slowing you down, adding to the brain fog, adding to the inability for you to see results when you work out, which at the time you said was very frustrating. You're like, I'm putting in some effort. But at some point you go, Why Why bother? Yeah, do.


You get to that point, especially when you have folks in the medical profession that are telling you, Listen, this is father time. This is age, etc, etc, and certain things can be that way. You may not be what you used to be, but there's no excuse for being as bad as we may be sometimes. And so you've got to find that balance. And for me, again, if you go to a gym and you work out with a trainer, you want to see muscles, you want to see definition, you want to see see progress. Far more often than not, when you go to doctors, what happens is that it's not that they're always wrong or anything, but they're telling you, you, are what your numbers show. Show. And you show slight improvement, okay, take this medication, and it will continue to show those numbers. Well, that's not living. Right. That's not living. Living.


That might be- I remember what you said to me. What was the quote you said to me? I remember I was out on my-.


I I said a difference between... I said many things to you. But one of the things I said to you is there's a difference between being alive and living.


Yes, that was my favorite quote. I was out on the the porch Colorado, and you said there's just a difference between being alive and living.


That's right. And I really can say that over the last nine and a half months, the progress that I've made, I'm in the best shape that I've been in in 25 years. That's amazing. And I've went from 208 pounds. I'm at 177. Now, some people would say, Oh, you're skinny, you're skinny, skinny. But then my trainer said to me, Actually, you're not. He said, Forget the scale. Look in the mirror. Mirror. And so of a sudden, I look in the mirror, my arms got a little little bigger. Chest got a little little bigger. Shoulders got a little broader. It's my stomach that went down down I remember how.




You were. I went from a size 36 pants to 32. A suit that was a size 56 is now a 50. All of this other stuff. I've had people looking at me ready to faint because they're like, What the hell has happened?


Happened? Never get tired of that. But a lot of times when people say they want to lose weight, what they really mean is I want to lose fat. Right. One of the things that we tracked was we tracked your muscle mass to make sure that your muscle mass was going up while the weight was coming down. Right. That's a great indication that you're not sarcopenic. You're not muscle wasting. You're actually fat wasting, which is why the body starts to shape itself so much. But to your credit, you you from day day very intellectually curious, if not the most intellectually curious patient I've ever had. And I have infinite patience for that because you always want to know, Why am I taking this? What is it going to do? What are my expectations? Are there any side effects? Am I going to have to rely on this long term? And we came to an agreement that we wouldn't do anything that would borrow from your future. We wouldn't do anything that would create a dependency or something that you would have to rely on. Correct. And we wouldn't do anything where you would have to consistently increase this dosage over time, like the endless choo-choo train of being on a pharmaceutical, right?


And stayed within those guidelines. But then you put in the work, man. So I want to talk about some of the transitions you made in your life, like some of the dietary changes, routine changes, because highlighting your schedule, right? I mean, there are very few people, myself included, that have the travel schedule that you do and also have the media media schedule you do you don't dictate that.


Right? But you got to be committed. Committed. I mean, this is me. I want to be the best at whatever I choose to do. In life, you have to find different things to make yourself motivated. When Michael Jordan was playing basketball, he would conjure up these stories about his opponents to get inside his head. Head. So would be motivated to go out there and just- Did he, really? -and just take them out. Stuff Stuff like, guy said this to me or that to me, and the guy never said it. But Michael Jordan Jordan put that in his head to take them out. You have Kobe Bryant, a dear friend of mine, God rest his soul. He was an assassin, and he thought the same way, and the doubters and the haters and stuff like that. For me, people realizing it's not about being an athlete or whatever. Whatever genre you're in, whatever you do that you're passionate about, chances are if you're successful at it, there's an abundance of people who want to take what you've got. They want to believe that they're better than you, etc, etc. What excites you? What motivates you? Well, here's what does it for me.


What does it for me is that no matter how blessed and fortunate and how much God may have blessed me to achieve what I have achieved, I know for a a fact in every single thing that I have done in my adult life, no one has seen me at better than than 50 I can promise you that. No one. I have awakened every morning, tired, fatigued, having to pull myself out of bed. I've awakened every morning with headaches, having to overcome obstacles just before I get my day started. I have awakened every day, foggy, not focused, stressed, whatever it is, whatever's going on in your life, all of these things. The better you feel health-wise, the more emboldened you feel to tackle whatever challenges come your way. A matter of fact, what happens is you embrace the challenges and you look forward to it because it's a test as to what you can withstand, what you can overcome, what you can endure. And when you get to that point where you see yourself literally making making on an everyday everyday basis. It's the equivalent of going out and working out in the gym. When you're working out with with trainer, you're seeing things.


But the difference between you and most people that I've dealt with in my lifetime, they could come to me and say, Okay, you're eating a little bit better. Better. A result of that, your cholesterol numbers are down and your sugar levels seem manageable and things seem to be getting better. But I never felt it, and I certainly never saw it. And so for me, the difference now is that I see it and feel it in everything that I I do, just as it pertains to my health, but as it pertains to my work, as it pertains to my personal life, how I deal with stressful situations and stuff like that. It's like, like, it on. I'm ready to go. And most exciting part about it all is that I haven't even gotten to where I intend to get yet. Right.


That's a big statement that the best people have seen you at is 50 %. And I think a lot of people out there right now are learning to cope with what they have rather than get rid of that anchor. I always talk about the little tiny anchors off the stern of the boat. You can either pull them up or you can add power to the motor and just deal with it, just push through it. And as these things things start to your your life, weight gain, water retention, brain fog, poor sleep, lack of focus and concentration, poor waking waking energy, those things start to leave your your life, like, man, the tide is racing.


All the way.


So have you felt a difference in not just your career, but things like your relationships, your energy level, your cognitive cognitive Do you feel that other areas of your life have been really touched by this in a positive way?


Oh, yes. First of all, positive positive I'm talking about physically, physically, health-wise. Just as this is the case with emotions and spirit, positive feelings are an addiction. And what happens is when you feel that way, your tolerance level for the negativity evaporates. And by that, I mean, it doesn't have to be literal negativity. If somebody's spirit is around you and they're defeatist, they have to defeatist attitude. I can't do this. I can't do it. Well, you're like, like, you can. Yes, you can. Where's your discipline? Where's your sacrifice? I hate cold. No one hates cold more than me.


One of the funniest conversations that brought me to.


My knees. Oh, my goodness. I mean-.


Besides Steve Harvey. That's right.


You brought me to my my knees.


In that.


Cold plunge. Oh, my my Listen, I got that cold plunge. Listen, for.


You- He would call me. For you, Gary.


Oh, God. This was a Sunday night, a month ago. It was a Sunday night. I remember it. I called called you I said, I just installed this cold cold It took me eight and a half months to do it, but I said, I just installed this cold cold I'm going to do it. I said, Man, I feel the cold just just out of the tub. I can't get in there, man. I can't get in there. Then I I that damn Steve Harvey, who's supposed to be my boy, and he was doing it. He let you out. He said, My brother, I got no help for you. You're going to suffer. He said, said, This going to be the hardest thing you ever did in your life. You're going to suffer. Come on, Steve Steve I was like, You're supposed to be helping me. He said, I got even worse news for you. It don't get no better the second time or the third time or the fifth time. This is what he told me before I plunged in. Your first time. Before I plunged in the first first time, you told me, I'm on the phone with you.


I hang up with you. I go with him. I get with him. I get back to you before I get in. You said, said, minutes minimum, six minutes max. Yes. I said, okay. I got in that bad boy for five and a half minutes. I was proud. Yes. You were proud of me. Then I called Steve Harvey, and he said, That don't mean shit. I said, What are you talking about? He said, You said you had your hands on the rims, and that means you had your hands and your forearm out of the tub. It don't count. Get all the way in there. It don't count. He said, Get all the way in. He said, I want you you up to your upper chest or your your neck, included. I said, You got to be kidding, man. I had to get back in there the next night. But ever since then, every time I've been home, I've done it. I've done it. It. And medically, physically, what it does to you is something for you to articulate far better than me. But what I can tell you it's done for me, it's elevated my risk level from the standpoint, Wait a minute.


There's nothing I hate more cold, and I did it.




Else can I do that I thought I couldn't do? What else can I do that I swore up and down I would never do?


Do? And you think there's something to the fact that... Because every time you walk to the edge of that cold cold your body goes and your brain goes, I do not want to get in here. That's right. Then you go, But there's more benefit than risk, and you force yourself to do it. Then when you get out, you feel that reward, that boost in emotion and mood. Do you think there's something to that that when you go through the rest of your day, it just makes those little bombs that are being thrown at at The little negativity, the haters on Instagram, the comment on the podcast, the.


This, the that. Well, the haters on Instagram and Twitter and all that other stuff, X rather and all of this other stuff, that's something for other people to lament. It phases me not at all. I could kill us. That's never phased me. They can kick rocks. I've never cared. If somebody is right, they're right. If they're wrong, they're wrong. But I don't worry about how negativity negativity me because I was raised professionally as a journalist. So you know, cynicism and skepticism to some degree, vitriol inevitably comes your way. When you're a pursuer of truth, these are the things that come with my profession, so it doesn't phase me. But what does phase me is knowing that I wasn't measuring up to snuff.


I'll tell you this. You weren't measuring up to your own snuff.


Here's what I mean by that. I cover professional sports. These are some of the greatest athletes in the world. And I get to go on national TV every day and hold them accountable with my words and with my voice. Then I went home knowing that I was short-changing myself. It wasn't that I didn't have have Forget the skill. Of Of they have the skill. They have skills you don't have. They have skills on levels we don't have. That's not the point. But that desire, that fire inside of your belly to maximize your potential, whatever it may be, be, why are doing doing And the fact of the matter is I knew in my heart I wasn't with my own health. I did it for the right reasons. I was on my grind. I was trying to be the best. I was working all the time, stealing sleep when I could and not prioritizing sleep, not prioritizing rest, not prioritizing working out. But then you get to a point where you get older and older, and I had COVID, and after I had COVID, I had to have two, not one, but two rotator cubs. That was a real battle for you.


You. I couldn't work. Work. And of a sudden, I'm 208 pounds, skinny fat with this pot, nasty belly. Ain't nothing worse than skinny fat in my estimation. I mean, you're going to be fat, be fat everywhere. I mean, to be skinny, but to have a pot belly, which again, I'll show you the picture because I've never revealed these pictures. You haven't. I mean, for me, I was like, Enough is enough. Enough. Right. And so about my life. I got two daughters. I'm an uncle to 15 nieces and nephews. I got four older sisters. Both of my parents are God with God rest their soul. I'm the patriarch of the family. They say I'm the biggest dude in sports media. No question. I got millions of people watching me on TV. I got billions of people watching me on digital. I got a responsibility to be better.


To yourself. To be better and to be my best self. What I've learned is, especially after hooking up with you and working out with my and doing all of this other stuff. You know what I've learned, Gary? I'll never reach my best self because I'll never stop. My days of taking shortcuts and not taking care of my health is over. I'm not going back. Whatever it takes. I don't care what sacrifices I have to make. I don't care what I have to deprive myself of. There is no wealth without health.




There is no wealth without health. And so for me, that's the number one priority. Yeah, I might steal a cheeseburg here and there, but now I eat a cheeseburg-.


It's the.


Exception to the rule. -in a month, what I used to do in two days, I might eat one or two cheeseburgers a month, okay? I used to eat bread with everything that I do. Now I'm going to the restaurant while I'm at home, and I'm like, No bread. The soda is that I love drinking and stuff like that. Now it's water with lemon.




You know? And those.






They pay major dividends, right? I wish some people would realize that that 10-week journey to get there to where you're on this path, really on this path to where you're starting to see results. That hook is set. You're feeling better. You're sleeping better. You got more energy. That 10-week journey, as hell as it might sound, when you get to where you are now, it's easy for you to say, I'm not going back.


I've had a bunch of people that have worked with me over the years. I remember a dear friend of mine, JJ JJ was the green smoothie king, and she wanted me to drink these green smoothies. It was pivotal because at that time, I was drinking soda all the time, and I never wanted to drink a healthy green drink. I remember my trainer, Obe Obedika, he used to come out and he'd be, Get in the gym. Well, I'd get in the gym two days a day. He couldn't find me for two months. Stuff like that. So where you you come in is I looked at you. You were in shape. I looked at what you did for Dana. I can't thank Dana enough. I really can't.


I can't thank him enough either. Big shout-out to Dana White.


He changed my career. Listen, this guy is I love him because he's always been straight with me, and we've always had a very real and authentic relationship. He got with you. He got himself healthy. That's when I called them. When I saw the interview that he did with you, and he looked at me and he said, Your turn. I said, What are you talking talking my turn? He said, Your turn. What the hell am I sitting here looking like this for? And you're not. He said, You should be looking better than me. You should be in better shape. I said, Look, man, I ain't got your money. I know. That's a.


Lot of people people it's so much money.


I said, With everything you're doing, you got a six pack. I said, And by the way, you're your own boss. I got bosses to in. So I can't just work out when I want to and go to the gym and do all of this other stuff. He said, Yes, you can. He made a bet to me, and the bet was he loses nothing. It was all about me. He said, You do do I'll give you $20,000 to whatever cause you want me to give it to. Really? He said, You don't do this. He said, Not only do you not get nothing, you get ridiculed by me for not stepping up and doing what you're supposed to do. That is the bet. I hesitated for a couple of months, and then I called you and I called Tim and I said, I am ready to accept your bet. I've been all in ever since. Like I said, it's been a journey. It's still a journey. But to lose 33 pounds, to have my body fat go from 29.5 to what it is now, right now I'm at 14.6 % body fat. That is legit. Legit. Not going to rest until I'm between 10 and 12 %.


And when I get there, the mission is going to be to stay there.




Period. Yes. Whatever it takes. And that's just where I'm at right now because I know that the benefits is good health, great health, and that it's going to make me better at everything else I choose.


To do.


Because I took care of my number one priority, which was my health.


Yeah. And you never get tired of people telling you how good you look since you've changed. I want to shift gears a little bit because you talked a little bit about how you were shaped in the sports world, but a lot of that shaping came from your youth. Your books landed itself on the New York Times bestseller list, and I think it's landed itself there because it's a very real, very visceral memoir. I found that you were extraordinarily vulnerable in this book because I I think the Stephen A. A. Is very authentic, very opinionated, doesn't back down from a challenge. But your life wasn't always that way. You talk in the book about the disparity between your mother and your father, a father that you categorize as as and a deeply loving mother that God rest her her was a big impact on your life. Talk a little bit about that journey.


Well, I think that first of all, my book Straight Shooter was a tribute and a dedication to my mother above all else. She's the greatest woman that I've ever known. She's the reason I know there is a a and there are angels.


I got goosebumps right now. I don't know if.


You can see see but I got them. Because when you have a mother who... My mother passed away when I was 49 years old. I just turned 56. She passed away in June of 2017. My My I can count on one hand how many times my mother told me she loved me in my lifetime. There was never a day that I did not know she loved me.




My mother was very, very big on action. Don't tell me who you are and what you're going to do. Show me. She was very big on that. And so when I think about the sacrifices that she made, the two jobs, the 16 hours a day, seven days a week, one week's week's vacation, on welfare for a short while, getting government cheese and bread and all of this other stuff. If we were poor, we're poor. That wasn't it. It's that my father would take his his and he'd give it to his other family, and he would deprive us. And my resentment for my father, it was never because of things like infidelity and stuff like that. He never put his hands on my mother, thank God, because we would have had to do something to him because I would have never had that tolerated that. But the personal issues that took place within their relationship was their business. My sisters, my four older older sisters were incredibly resentful of my father for the the.


You have four older older and.


You're the- Yeah, I'm the baby of six. You're the baby, six. My brother died in a car accident in 1992 in Texas. He passed away in a car accident. He was in a van with a bunch of people because he was a traveling salesperson and somebody cut in front of the the driver. Was asleep. And the guy was driving, but my brother was asleep in the back seat. There were 15 people in the minivan. Oh, my God. And the guy swerved and it flipped over multiple times. My brother was the only one who died because he was asleep. So he was the only one who didn't have on a seatbelt. Got you. And so because of that, that's why I like to drive myself most times. Most times you see me driving myself instead of being in a car service unless I have have because I'm comfortable driving myself because I trust myself more than I trust somebody behind the wheel. But as it pertains to my father and my mom, the issue for me and my resentment emanated from the fact fact I'm a man. You have my mother doing your job. Provided. You can sit up there and you can have your relationship.


You can do what you want to do, and my sisters could resent you for that. Hell, I resent you for that. But what really stood out in my mind was the fact that how are you a man? And you have a woman working two jobs, working 16 hours a day, seven days a week to pay bills you're supposed to be paying. And so for me, I had adopted a long time ago, long before I ever became a dad, that I had adopted this saying, if my children are hungry, it's because I'm starving. I will never eat unless they eat. I will never have unless they have. I will always make sure that they're okay before I'm okay because they are my responsibility. So if it ever gets to a point where I'm squeezed, well, the first order of business is to make sure they're provided for. Then I take care of me. That's how I am when it comes to being a dad because it was something that my father never was. So when I wrote the book, it wasn't to disrespect him, but it was to highlight how phenomenal my mom was. And in order to do that, you had to point out and articulate why.


Why. And the process of saying why, you're inevitably talking about what wasn't and what didn't exist as it it to my dad.


Have you ever thought about rewiring that and maybe looking at that and saying, well, maybe had that scenario not been the way it was in my life, I wouldn't have the conviction towards my own children, because I think oftentimes what happens is our children should become better versions of of us, I mean, the greatest blessing in my entire life is that my kids work for us us full and they travel with us. They've caught the bug. They're a part of the enterprise. I consciously worked to make that happen happen I had a phenomenal father figure growing up, but my parents were gone. We lived on a farm. They both worked in Washington, D. C. They left at 5:30 in the morning. They came home seven o'clock at at night. Left before the sun up and came before the sun down. I was his only child, and I was alone a lot. I think that helped shape the way that I am as a father of what I pour into my kids. Do you think that maybe there's some positivity that came from that because it shaped the way.


That you are? I have no doubt that there's some positivity that comes from it, but I'm sure you'll appreciate what I'm about to say. As As your lovely wife and family.


Right off camera.


When you love love your as much as I loved my mother. Nothing matters more than their suffering. My mother suffered. So for me, if there was anything that I had to deprive myself of, even at this point in time in my my to make her life better.




Would have done it. I know there's a benefit. Don't get me wrong. I can look at it that way now that she's gone. But while she was here, there were so many years of joy she was deprived of because she had to do what he was supposed to do that it was hard for me to look at it that way. If you sit there and you see me now surrounded by my team, they'll tell you it's like one of the most excruciating things with all the success that's come my way. When I got my new contract from ESPN, the contract that I presently presently.


Talk a lot about the.


Struggles with ESPN. I've had my struggles with it. Let me go in 2009. I was unemployed for a year. I thought I was being blackballed. I came back, and even when I came back to ESPN two years later, they restricted me to radio, wouldn't even allow me on television. I was was from television from May of 2009 to April of 2012. I was not allowed on television. Nobody would hire me for television. I had to go through those things. I'm here to tell you something right now to get to a point where in 2018, I signed this mega deal. I cried. I cried. Because even though it was lucrative, I was sad as hell because my mother had just passed away a year ago. I always wanted to buy a house in St. Thomas. I sent my mother on a cruise at least twice a year. Twenty-six cruises she went on. Build them all to me. Every one of them was built to me and all this other stuff. But I wanted to buy a house in St. Thomas. I wanted to sit up up and I wanted to send her around the world. One of the greatest moments in my life was in in when I signed signed contract for $1.3 million to do, quite frankly, which was a television show on ESPN Two that was given to me by Mark who's not a President of William Morris endeavor, but was the the head.


Was the boss of ESPN at the time. I left his office after signing that contract. I went to Queens, New York, and my mother was working in the PAL, a Police Athletic League, as a part-timer because she has retired as a nurse. She was working there doing bingo and all of this other stuff just so she could save up money to go on a cruise a year. I went there to her and I went to the guys and said, My mother's done working. It's over. She'll never work again. Oh, my God. I pulled out of there. It was the proudest moment moment of my That must have been. But in 2018, that was the money that was like, You want to house St. Thomas? What crews you want to go on with? What do you want? You want to go to L. A? Wherever you go, anybody that knows me knows. My mother would not have had an expense. Everything would have been taken care of. She wasn't around when that happened. It was like, Damn it. But then she was like, You could could hear to me. This is what you worked for. This is what you worked for.


You know what to do.


But you had that moment when you pulled her out of that big ball.


Oh, yeah. No question.


In your career with these struggles with ESPN, what was it that made you come back and not get bitter and turn your back and quit?


Mom, she reminded me of all the times she had heard me on the phone complaining or acting up or speaking about my bosses in an unfavorable fashion and bringing up race, bringing up unfairness, bringing up being pigeonholed, bringing up all of these different things. And she says, Here's what I do know. She says, I'm not saying that you're totally wrong, but I know this. If you were a boss, you wouldn't want you working for you with that attitude. Who wants that? That? She said that to She said, You suck it up and you find a way to persevere and work your way around it because guess what? You ain't the only person in the world that's going through stuff. The world is filled with people who've got excuses about why they're being held back. And by the way, those things will be valid, but nobody is going to come and help you just because you're crying about how you're being treated treated You have to show that you have the intestinal resolve to overcome. Right. She said, You got to find it within you. And so for me, mentally, I've always been mentally strong. I've always been mentally able to overcome adversity and adversarial situations.


What happened when I met you, what happened when I committed myself to getting getting in better health, it wasn't as hard for me to overcome those doldrums. Because all of a sudden, I'm looking at other things that's happening. I'm looking in the mirror and I no longer have this. I really, really think it's that. I'm trying to get my phone right so I can show this.


To you.


Throw that up. This is right here.


Let me see.


Oh, my gosh. That was me when I met you.


We got to throw this off.


That was me. Me.


Yeah, we need the after too.


That's right. That was me right here. I can get up right now. Let's do it. I got a lot of stuff to improve. I'm not a finished product.


I'm not a.


Finished product. But this is me. Oh, we got it.


Oh, he's taking it off now. Come on now. Dude, you look great. Steven A.




Ladies and gentlemen. Dude, I remember when you walked into my apartment that day, you look so much different.


Now, man. I mean, my face.




Fatter. I was 33 pounds heavier, and I've always been slim. But now I'm a little cut up, and I'm going to get in even better shape. But it's pounds of muscles that I'm going to put on. I'm committed to keeping the fat off. I'm committed to better conditioning. And it wasn't just about being in bad shape. Covid almost killed me. I read about that. I didn't.


Know you during that time. That's right. But everybody was talking about this. This.


In't know got so so Well, what happened is that I had gone and I had gotten an endoscopy. An endoscopy for those that don't know, they put this tube down, down, you thought basically evaluating and analyzing the stomach, the esophagus down to stomach, because I talk for a living. And so as a result, you develop acid reflux a lot and stuff like that. And I go and I get those biannual checkups or actually annual checkups. And so this particular day, I wasn't feeling well, but I was scheduled for the endoscopy. I went in there anyway, and I came out that night. I had a 102 degree temperature. Wow. It was at 102.5. I was sweating bullets. You would have thought that I had jumped into a pool with my clothes on. Really? Okay. Doctors came over, they evaluated me. They instantly diagnosed me with COVID. And so when I had COVID, whatever medication they had had me on for the esophagus or whatever for the acid reflux, whatever antibiotic they gave me or whatever, I don't know what what happened, it made things worse. Worse. And next thing you know, I had double pneumonia. Oh, my God.


God. And so I had double pneumonia, I go to the hospital for a couple of days. They give me some fluid, they send me home. You just got to let it run its course. It wouldn't go away. My sister got COVID from me. My sister, Carmen. Oh, my God. She had COVID on a Friday. She was was by Tuesday.


I- Really?


-went from December 16th into the new year. It wouldn't go away. So it's New Year's Eve.


What were you doing about being on the air?


No, I was off. I took off. The only day that I worked was Christmas Day. Christmas Day, I did it from my house. I did it from my house, and everybody could see, Whoa, he's not well, because I I because it was such a big day for NBA NBA I didn't want to miss it. I said, I'm in my house by myself. What's the big deal? I'll do it. But once I finished, I was so drained. Really? I was hallucinating so much, man. Man. Day I thought I was a rap artist, another another rap about Kyrie I thought thought that before, too, though. Another minute I I was a basketball basketball going up against LeBron. Another day I thought I was a singer. I didn't know what the hell was going on. On. Itried to tell I did all of this. Fluid loss. It was just fluid loss or what have you. Then New Year's Eve, I'm in the emergency room at the hospital in New Jersey. One doctor said to me, You just got to let it run its course. Another Another says to me, Hold on. She comes in there, Dr. Booth, I'll never forget as long as I I Dr.


Booth, black woman in the hospital. She was fantastic. She looked at me and she said, This is not good. Good. She said, said, A white spot is an indication of pneumonia on your X-ray. On the the On my lungs. It looked like it was cloudy. It looked like it was just clouded. The whole X-ray was white. Wow. She looked at me and and said, You're in some trouble. She said, We're going to try this antibiotic. We're going to try try this, steroid. You should know in 2-3 hours. Three to four, actually, she said, whether this is going to work or not. She says, If it doesn't work, do you have somebody we could call? We may need to call your family. She said that to you. It was that bad. She said, But let's think think positive and let's Let's.


Think positive.


After that. I'm sitting there like I'm laying in in and I'm like, I couldn't believe it. Because I'm like, I don't smoke. I'm a casual drinker.


How were you feeling at the top? You didn't feel like you were on this doorstep. You felt bad.


But I was struggling to breathe. I had no strength. I had no strength. I was struggling to breathe. I was coughing a lot the whole bit, and she gave me the antibiotic and the steroid. The next thing you know, I started feeling better within the next couple of hours. About four hours later, the ball dropped to bring you in the year 2022, and the ball dropped. I was in the hospital bed. You were in the ER. I was in the ER. Oh, my God. I was in the ER. And so after I went through all of that, I just made up my mind from that point forward, somehow, some way, I'm going to find a way to make sure that I prioritize my health in a way that I never have before. I would search and look for things online and stuff like that. That. And for some odd reason, I ran across Dana interviewing you. It was months later, but that's when I found out. Because even after, you got to remember, after that, the reason why I showed you that photo is because after that, I still had two bad rotator cuffs. And then ultimately I had to get those operated on.


Oh, my God. And so I couldn't work work I couldn't do anything. And I made up my mind the second I got through all of this, it's going to take months, but the second I got through all of this, come hell or high water, I was going to find a path. And I I found.


Thank you, man. That is an amazing story. I did not know how close to the doorstep you were.


It was bad.


So for the listeners that have seen this meteoric rise, what's fascinating to me is your career is probably on the best path it's ever been. But you keep growing. You've added, in the last year alone, New York Times bestselling book, which I want want to because you've emphasized this before. You wrote that book yourself. Yes, I did. You didn't hire a ghostwriter and throw a couple of lines at them. You wrote that book yourself. Yes, I did. That's Stephen A. Smith, real visceral, just pouring your heart out into that. It's one of the reasons why I recommend it's a must read. You started your own podcast. Yep. Your ESPN career is not by any stretch of the word stagnant. We're number one. Do you remind people of that?


Yes. You have to. Yeah, definitely. Unfortunately, because it's not even about tooting your own own horn. About understanding the business. The reality is that the business doesn't really want to advertise the fact that you're number one because it elevates your value. The more it elevates your value, the more independent you become because other people notice that you're number one, and they want to keep you and what have you. And it's not bad. There's nothing in malicious or anything on the part of ESPN or any other network for that matter. But the reality is that you're out here competing, and when I'm not one to blow or toot my own horn until somebody tries to knock it down. When you try to knock it down, then I got to remind you you're not getting away.


With that. In the most hilarious fashion, I might add to it. The most hilarious fashion, like the two interceptions that you got a a thousand for. Three. Actually, it was three.


It's actually three. It's actually three. Absolutely. That was one of my favorite. I made Marcus Spears hand me the $1,000 on the air. On the air during Monday night football. You did. Monday night night counter. And he gave it to you on the.


He gave it to you on the ear?


He gave.


It to me on the ear. I saw somebody recommending that you make them go to the bank and get you quarters.


Yeah, I said, no, I don't want to carry around that much change, but you can do you give me the bills, though. Gave me some 50, some hundreds, 20s, 10s.


It was exactly exactly 1,000.


It 1,000. He was a man of his word. That was a big.


Prediction, though, man. I think there are a lot of people go, go, Wow.


Yeah. Right. But you know what? Listen, you got to go for it. You got to go for it. A lot of times people are scared to be wrong or whatever, but you got to take a chance. You got to take a chance with everything in life. If you're going for it, you got to go for it. That's what I'm doing doing.


Everything in life. You are definitely going. My whole point is new book, new podcast, ESPN career at the height of your career right now. Where is Stephen A. Smith going? What does the next five years look like.


For Stephen A. Smith? I'm not going to lie. I mean, listen- You've added the health. I'm in takeover mode. Some people will say, You're already there, whatever. Whatever. I'm just getting started. I'm in the best shape that I've been in the last 25 years. But there is something inside of me that keeps telling me you haven't scratched the surface. I want to gain 5-10 pounds of muscle and reduce my body fat by about another 3-4 %. And watch how that impacts your career. I want to solidify myself as number one. But I also want to establish such a level of success that when you think about the all-time greats, the Howard Coessels, the Bryant Gumbels, the Bob Costis of the world, and others, you can't help but think about me whether you like it or not. With my podcast, my podcast to me is not just a a podcast. A show. I came out of my own pocket. I've built my own studio in Jersey City, New Jersey. That's going to be opening up in a matter of weeks. It's mine. I want to do late night one day, if at all possible.


Oh, my God. You'd be great.


On late late I want to show an ability to make people laugh and smile and not just be that gung-ho. I want to bring light and a a and a level of euphoria to people's lives. Not just with truth or my version of it, not just with honest, open, and transparent transparent conversation, I want people to see me me I want to make people laugh. I want to make people smile. I want to enjoy other people's success. And I want to help you and others contribute to helping us all be becoming even more committed to our health. It doesn't mean that Steven A is not going to eat a bowl of cereal from time to time. It doesn't mean that I'm not going to eat a cheeseburger from time to time or anything like that. But again, what I now do in two months, I used to do in a day. I used to eat four or five bowls a day: breakfast, lunch, dinner. I now buy a box of of or fruit loops or something like like that, and I have to throw it out because I didn't even open the box because I forgot it's there.


Because I'm just not doing those things anymore because I love the way that I'm feeling, and I don't want to compromise. My definition of being bloated is now because I ate before the interview. My definition before being bloated was literally having my belly protruding, and I'm walking walking and I'm carrying weight around, and I just can't emphasize enough. Listen, this is not an infomercial. This is not anything like that. I'm telling people I'm not joking. Look at me on the air and go back. I'm I'm on every day. Look at me from months ago. Look at me now. Now people, they've gone from saying, You got to lose your belly. You got to lose some weight, my brother. To sit in there and go like that, you might need to gain some weight. Because they don't see me with my shirt off. They don't see that I'm trying to build myself up, but you got to get rid of the fat. I don't want unhealthy. I don't want that unhealthy feeling in my life. I don't want unhealthy things in my life. I don't want unhealthy people in my life. I don't want any of that.


That. And me, you have to invest in yourself. Yourself. And me, me, tell you this, too, I want to be motivated. Motivated. Really, want to be motivated and get yourself together as a human being. Go to the hospital. Just take a trip to the hospital. Spend a couple of hours in there. Look around and see people who are sick and ask yourself, do you want to be that person? Do you want to be that person? Some of these folks can't help it. I'm not blaming. I'm not casting any asperges upon anybody. Some people just a stroke of luck. God has blessed you in different ways than giving you the greatest health and stuff like that. We know this. But for you to have a choice and to do absolutely nothing to get yourself together health-wise is egregious. I'm mad now when I don't have time to work out. I'm mad when I don't have time. I got to this meeting and that meeting meeting this this I'm.


Like, Damn it.


I needed to get in the gym. I'm literally calling my trainer and apologizing to him for appointments I have to miss because-.


Your last one.


Couldn't find you for two months. I'm like, like, they're the same guy. Thank God he came back to work with me. Then when you have somebody, one of the things you taught me, everything's in the the It is. Is. The work. It It tells story. All of a sudden, I'll go to some next health facility or whatever to get a vitamin drip. Well, guess why I really go there? I really go there to use the machine that measures your body fat and measures your muscle. That's what I really go. If they don't have it, I don't even want it. Where's the machine? Because I'm looking for the Nuggets. The data. The data that tells me, and I told you you I said, Gary, it's not what you pointed out. It's that you pointed it out, and I'm able to target it. And because I've been able to target target and you've helped me target it, now all of this work that I'm doing, I'm seeing the fruits of my labor. Yes. Why would I want to change?




And inside. Outside and inside. Because just the inside, especially in America, people can say what they want. They got to see it.




Can come with perfect numbers.


Numbers. They show me.


Yeah, I feel great. Like, but if I don't see it, it's not good enough. It's not good enough. But when you can see it, it's different. Every single morning, every single morning, I get up, I pray, I thank the good Lord for giving me another day. I ask him to give me a good day. The next thing I do is grab my phone and I look at that photo of how I looked that I just showed you when I had COVID and what I regressed to. Then the next thing I do is get up and I look in the mirror and I turn sideways. How's my stomach looking? You know how you eat? I don't care who you are. Are. If you eat, you're going to bloat a little bit for a second. Even then, I'm pissed off. I'm pissed off. I'm like, Why is it showing? I'm fixated on it. I'm not going to rest. I can sit here. I am not a finished product by any stretch of the imagination. But I'm telling people, I don't want to be finished. Everything, I'm going to try to up the ante. I get to 10, 12 % body fat, but I'm chiseled.


I'm still going to call Gary. Gary, I want to do this. This. I'm going to go to I'm going to focus.


On content and.


Function I spoke to my man, Gary. This is what I want to do. Is there a problem? My train is what I'm after. It's like it doesn't stop because I'm reaping the the and it's making me better. Because all of a sudden, when I get stressed, I might be mad in the moment, but it doesn't stay with me as long.




I got other stuff to do because I'm feeling too good to be stagnant. I'm like, What's next? Next? What's next? What's You see what I'm saying? And that's how I feel.


Well, this has been absolutely amazing. This has been amazing. This journey that we've been on together, and I deeply appreciate our friendship. I really truly do. We value it.


It. And friendship is real because you you did I'm a client. You did not have to do what you've done for me. You didn't have to answer the phone every time I called. I didn't have to call you that damn many times because I kept becoming more and and more My.


Wife was like, like, he is calling you a lot. What's going on here?


I'm calling a lot, but I was calling a lot because you're teaching me. This time that that our conversations ventured beyond me, and we're just talking about this is what this does. This is what that does. I'm going to other people, and I'm literally saying them, them, this going to activate the brown sugars in your blood. It's going to be the check. When you do that, it's going to eat up, it's going to speed up your metabolism. You got to get in there. You got to suck it up. Come Come back. Come out. How you feel. Okay, well, what happened? Happened? You didn't drink.


Enough You.


Start talking about cold cold proteins. That's right. You didn't drink enough water. You didn't drink enough water. All right, did you have enough sodium in your water? What did you do? Do? Saw you drinking soda. They're looking at me like, What the hell is going on? Well, what's going on is I'm doing for them what Dana White did for me, what you did for me, what Steve Harvey is now doing for me because he's been on that mission for so long. And the only reason I brought up his name is because he wanted me to bring up his name. He wanted me to let everybody know. Look, man, he's not playing games. And now he and I are going back and forth, inspiring each other because he got me me beat, and telling me me he me me But I got got beat on on body fat. But he's about 10 years older than than me. So it's it's okay. But I just turned 56 last Saturday, and I'm at 14.6% body fat. That is incredible.


Half of where you started.


Half of where I started. That is incredible. And it doesn't stop from here. And so it's gratitude to you. It's gratitude to Dana. It's gratitude to my my colleagues these are former professional athletes. I'm sitting next to Shannon Sharp. I'm sitting next to Ryan Clark, who owns a fitness center. I'm sitting next to these guys got so much love for me that they were like, You got to stop eating this, Steven. You got to stop doing this. You got to stop doing that. And they've gone from that to saying, Man, you look good. What you been doing? Doing? Tell the hell is going on? How did you get to this point? And so I tell them multivitamins and supplements, but but exercise monitoring my blood sugars, diet, paleo, the keto. These are things that you advise me to do. You didn't just come to me and say, Hey, 10X. You said, Steven, this is what you need to do. Here's how you need to do it. Here's why. And you explained it. And so you did what I clamor for executives to do in my business. I say, Listen, when you're talking to talent, maybe you wouldn't have many problems with some talent if you educated them as to why you're making the request you make.


Here's our business. This is what we're doing. This is what we need done. Here's why we need it done. This is why we need it from you. If you told us, maybe we'd listen more. But they don't a lot of times. They don't take that time, and often in most cases, you did. Thank you. You. And changed my life for the better, and I'm really appreciative.


I'm deeply appreciative, too. I wind down every podcast by asking the guest the same question. There's no right or wrong answer to this question, but what does it mean to you to be an ultimate human? To be an.


Ultimate human, I think being supremely healthy in terms of what you can control, being as supremely healthy as you could possibly be, being somebody who oozes that. See, if you're one of those healthy individuals and you're vibrant inside and there's no one who reaps the benefits of it, then you're being selfish. You're keeping it from yourself. You're not spreading the wealth. Tell me, no matter what scripture you read, no matter what your beliefs are or whatever the case may be, tell me anything, any walk of life that encourages you to be selfish. To be selfish in a fashion where you're the sole beneficiary of whatever greatness resides inside of you. If If you ooze it, you have that vibe, that aura about you and you walk it, not just talk it, and you're able to have a contagious effect that emanates and extends to such a degree that it affects the lives around around you. What it's all about. Because the more that you're that way, the more people will gravitate to to and they'll look for the ingredients of success. There's a whole bunch of people that want to be Gary Brecker these days.


There's a whole bunch of people that want to be Steve Harvey and Dana White and Stephen A. Smith and others. Well, why? Because we're considered individuals who are successful at what we do. Well, how do we get here?




Asking all the time. And we have an obligation, at least in some capacity, to share that and to do it in ways that you and others have done it. Okay? Sure you have a a and and you're going to thrive. But the most important thing you've done is you didn't give it all to me. You gave me a piece, said you out on your own. Own. And was after you saw how committed I was you gave a little more and a little more and a little more. More. And said, No, I'm not going to give it. I got to see it. Because why did that resonate with me? One of my mentors is Bob Iger, the CEO of Walt Disney. You can't walk up to him and take his time. You can't do it. It will not happen. He might throw a little nugget out there for you, but he's watching. Are you going to capitalize on this? Or are you going to waste my damn time? My boss is Dave Roberts, Executive VP, ESP in same exact way. Jimmy Patara, the President of the ESP, and Steve Harvey, Dana White, Mark Shapiro, Ari Emmanuel, people like that that I've known for many years and stuff like that.


Doctor Michael Eric Eric people like like Byron Allen with his greatness and stuff like that. The list goes on and and Successful people have very low tolerance level for laziness and people who are looking to cut corners. If you're looking to cut corners, the beauty of your position is that you are in the business of health.


If somebody's willing to cut corners with their own health.


What are.


They going to do to help you be healthy? Mentally, emotionally, spiritually, psychologically, physically, what are they going to do? It. They're going to cut corners. No time for that no more. Zero.


I love that.


Zero. I'm on the grind. That That to me, the ultimate human. Somebody who is committed to being on the grind for the betterment of themselves and the lives they can potentially impact.


That was amazing, man. Appreciate you so much, man. Thank you for coming on.


The show today. Thank you, my man.


I really appreciate it. As always, guys, that's just science.