ESPN's Stephen A. Smith Opens up About Near-Death Experience Battling COVID-19

Stephen A. Smith is back on ESPN after battling COVID-19 over the holidays. While appearing on First Take, Smith announced that he tested positive for COVID-19 on Dec. 21 and was experiencing mild symptoms at the time, according to USA Today. But then things got worse for him on New Year's Eve. 

"I had 103-degree fever every night, woke up with chills, pool of sweat, headaches with massive coughing profusely," Smith said on the show. "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.  

Smith went on to say that being vaccinated likely saved his life. "They told me had I not been vaccinated, I wouldn't be here. That's how bad I was," Smith said. "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."

The 54-year-old ESPN host also noted that COVID-19 impacts everyone differently. "I wanted to take a moment to say to folks out there that (A) the vaccine, according to [doctors], saved me," he said, per CNN. "Now, everybody's different because my sister smokes and she had Covid and she was fine in 3 days, 3-4 days. Me? I don't smoke, and it almost took me out."

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Smith is one of the top personalities on ESPN, Along with being one of the hosts of First Take, Smith is an analyst on NBA Countdown and has his own show on ESPN+ called Stephen A's World, which airs every weeknight. "I'm ecstatic to be back," Smith said. "I've missed being at work. I've used more sick days in the last month than I've used in my 28-year career in this business combined. I don't take many sick days, but I had to do it this month just to survive. And I can't tell you how lucky and sincerely blessed I am to be sitting here today, because two-and-a-half, three weeks ago, I didn't know if I was gonna make it."