Gary Smith – An Appreciation

News broke the other week that Sports Illustrated legend, Gary Smith, was going to retire from The magazine.  Smith, if you were not aware, is the best magazine writer of all time.  It is not close.  No one else  has achieved what he has – he won National magazine awards multiple times (the only person to ever do so) and the annual Best Sportswriting of the year was sure to feature a Gary Smith story (more than any other sports writer).  

Smith has had a profound impact on my life – some of his stories are so poignant and touching that they still resonate with me long after I have read, and reread and reread and reread them.  His best articles are miles ahead of any other writer.  His Pantheon level articles: The Ripples From Little Lake Nellie, Higher Education, Shadow of a Nation, Rapture of the Deep, Damned Yankee, As Time Runs Out, and the incomprable Crime and Punishment.  Smith understood his subjects on a deeper level that no one else has ever reached.  He sees inside them and tells their stories in a fluid way that is simply impossible to describe.  He wrote a prophetic article about Tiger Woods and the perils of fame; stunning pieces inside the heads of Mia Hamm and Andre Agassi and Mike Tyson.  

His work is stunning, powerful and his article Higher Education gets me dusty every single time.  Or, take his story about a Cleveland Indians pitcher struggling to come back after a horrendous tragedy, or even his story about the biggest mistake of Ritchie Parker’s young life.  Smith is like his work: incomparable and a level high above any other.  His loss is a massive one, and it got me to reread both of his books: More than a Game and Going Deep.  Order these books online and enjoy them, as I have, again and again and again…

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