Updated: Sep 7, 2022
Before his death in 2005, Coach Gaines was promised by a budding Stephen A. Smith to always give back to HBCUs. A ball player turned sports journalist the young Winston Salem State student would grow to become one of the biggest names in sports; and one of the largest advocates of HBCUs.
He has brought ESPN's "First Take" to various HBCU campuses, and continues to make numerous guest appearances, all while generating nearly $12 million in scholarship money for more than 2,000 college students. Those scholarships are important to Smith, a man from Queens, New York who otherwise may not have had the opportunity to attend college.
“I will always strive to give back,” Smith said. “What he wanted was for attention to be brought to HBCUs. It needs to highlight what HBCUs have to offer, what they bring to the table, and how it was an option that should be entertained, especially by African Americans throughout the nation. To be in the position that I’m in, and the voice that I have, I take all of that in the incredible level of pride, but there are obligations that come along with it.”