Stephen A. Smith Out of Action for ESPN While Recovering from Shoulder Surgery

by Nick Geddes

If you’ve turned on ESPN‘s “First Take” during the month of July, you might’ve noticed that Stephen A. Smith has been missing.

Smith, a mainstay on the debate-style show, has been absent largely since the NBA season ended. Smith, 54, revealed on Twitter last Thursday that he recently underwent shoulder surgery, thus causing his absence.

“Appreciate the love I’ve been receiving from everyone who’s missed me on [First Take].” Smith wrote. “I’m out because I’m rehabbing from shoulder surgery. Partial tear — rotator cuff AND Bicep, along with frayed Labrum, plus a Bone Spur. Aging sucks, but it is what it is. Back next month.” 

Smith announced he will return in August — just in time for the NFL and NCAAFB season. Smith is one of ESPN‘s aces, reportedly earning $12 million a year from the network. With Stephen A. Smith on the mend, “First Take” has featured a rotation of panelists.

This isn’t the First Time Stephen A. Smith has Missed Time at ESPN

Stephen A. Smith was previously out of action after testing positive for COVID-19 on Dec. 21. He returned after the new year, but not before he spent New Year’s Day in the hospital.

“I had 103-degree fever every night, woke up with chills, pool of sweat, headaches with massive coughing profusely,” Smith said, via “It got to a point that right before New Year’s Eve, I was in the hospital New Year’s Eve into New Year’s Day. That’s how I brought in the new year.

“They told me had I not been vaccinated, I wouldn’t be here. That’s how bad I was. I had pneumonia in both lungs. My liver was bad. It had ravaged me to the point where even now I have to monitor my volume, get to the gym every day, walk before you run. Work your way back because I’m still not 100 percent with my lungs.”