Stephen A. Smith slapped as a kid when he tried to get into drug game

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Stephen A. Smith practices what he preaches when it comes to his viral phrase, “Stay off the weed.”

The “First Take” host, on Kyle Brandt’s 10 Questions podcast on Wednesday, said he’s never tried marijuana, but he did try to get into the drug game in his youth.

“When I was about 12 years old, I walked up to a drug dealer, and I wanted to do like one of the guys in the neighborhood. He slapped me. He slapped me and said, ‘You ever come to me with that nonsense again, I’ma whoop your a–.’ That’s the quote. He wasn’t playing, and he meant it,” Smith recalled.

If things worked out differently, the fast-talking ESPN host never would have had a very different end.

“I would’ve been dead,” he said.

Instead, the individual who slapped Smith ended up watching over him on the streets as a young athlete.

“I don’t condemn those brothers or sisters because they had a lot of love for men they protected me,” he said. “They’re the ones that protected me. They’re the ones that kept me out of the game. If it wasn’t for them, of course along with my family I probably would’ve been in the game, because it was right there for me all the time.”

The sports analyst went on to note that when he was trying to earn a basketball scholarship, the dealer and his “crew” would allow him to shoot around in a local park unbothered.

“And they [were] told, ‘All hands off, leave him alone,’” Smith said. “And when it was time for me to go… when it was getting dark, they said, ‘All right it’s time for you to get out of here.’ They protected me.”

Smith admitted he was one of the lucky one, as many of his friends from his past are now dead or in jail.

“Obviously, the drug game forces you to do a lot of things that you otherwise wouldn’t do, you gotta protect yourself… your turf, you gotta see people are coming after you. Then you know what, you’re not far away from violence, and that’s what I grew up in,” he said.

As for the man who slapped him for trying to sell drugs at age 12?

“He was on the corner, and he survived for a while before ultimately the game got the better of him, and he ended up getting killed.”

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