Shelley Smith joined ESPN in January 1997 after working part-time as a reporter for the network since 1993. Previously, she was a writer/reporter for Sports Illustrated (1989-97). An award-winning journalist and author of three books, Smith has written and recorded hundreds of articles and reports on topics ranging from the Olympics to the O.J. Simpson trial. She has covered Super Bowls, the NBA Finals, the BCS national championship game, the NHL Stanley Cup, golf and tennis championships, ski racing, weightlifting, boxing and motor sports.
At ESPN, Smith won a Sports Emmy in 1997 for her segment on Magic Johnson as part of an ESPN production on AIDS and Athletes, and won three more as part of SportsCenter in 2003 and 2005 and College GameDay in 2007. In 2010 she received the College Sports Media Special Feature of the year award for a piece on Jake Olson, a young USC fan who lost his sight that year.
Previously, she worked for The Associated Press, Pacific Stars & Stripes in Tokyo, Japan (1987) and The San Francisco Examiner (1984-87), where she won a William Randolph Hearst Award in 1986 for her series on Title IX in the Bay Area. She joined Sports Illustrated in 1989 after covering the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, Korea, for the magazine. She conducted the first one-on-one interview with Ben Johnson (on a Seoul-to-New York flight) after he tested positive for steroids and was stripped of his gold medal.
Smith is the co-author of the controversial book “Just Give Me the Damn Ball!”, written with then New York Jets wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson following the 1996 NFL season. Her second book, “Games Girls Play: Lessons to Guiding and Understanding Young Female Athletes,” written with sports psychologist Caroline Silby, was released in August 2000 by St. Martin’s Press. She also co-authored “You Play to Win the Game: Leadership Lessons for Success On and Off the Field,” with then New York Jets coach Herm Edwards. She is currently working on an unauthorized biography of Raiders owner Al Davis.
She is the co-founder of the Magic Johnson Foundation newsletter, serves on various committees for The Boys and Girls Club of San Pedro and is a volunteer writer for many charity organizations, including the Serra Project, which provides homes for AIDS victims.
She attended the University of Nebraska from 1976-1981, majoring in journalism and political science. Smith’s daughter, Dylann Tharp, captained the University of Oregon soccer team and in 2007 was named to the Pac-10 second team.
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