The Sekou Smith Press Room officially opened at State Farm Arena as the Hawks began the 2021-22 season Thursday. The Hawks opened the season at home against the Mavericks.

Smith died in January at the age of 48. He served as The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Hawks beat writer from 2005-09. He later joined NBA Digital as a multimedia reporter and analyst. He also spent time at The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss. and the Indianapolis Star, where he covered the Pacers as the team’s beat writer.

The formal opening of the press room named for Smith is the last of several ways the Hawks honored him and his legacy. The team launched an annual Hawks-NBA Summer League internship earlier this year. Clement Gibson, from Jackson State University, Smith’s alma mater, was the first intern for the program. Each summer, a journalism or multi-media student from a Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) school will be selected to serve as the Hawks’ beat writer for NBA Summer League, and their work will appear on the team’s digital team properties, providing valuable experience and clips. In addition to covering associated travel costs, the Hawks will provide a stipend to the intern. The SWAC is comprised of historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), including Jackson State.

The team also started a Sekou Smith Award, which honors the player on the team’s roster who best represents themselves and the franchise with professionalism and integrity in their interactions with the media. John Collins was the inaugural winner of the award, announced in May, last season.

The Hawks publicly showcased the room during an in-game break Thursday, and TNT, which nationally broadcast the game, also featured a segment on the room.

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