The well-known and respected Inside the NBA cast has often referred to itself as part of “the Turner family.”
That family lost one of its most influential members on Wednesday with the passing of Annie Mae Smith, mother of studio analyst and former NBA player Kenny Smith. The intellectual counter to Charles Barkley’s bluntness and Shaquille O’Neal’s humor, Smith took a leave of absence from Inside the NBA to be with family in New York.
Barkley, O’Neal and studio host Ernie Johnson used a large portion of their pregame show to offer condolences and memories of Smith’s mother, whom Barkley dubbed “amazing.” Johnson reminded viewers that Smith proudly viewed himself as “a momma’s boy,” a son who would keep in touch frequently with the woman who raised him.
“I was driving in today and having a great conversation with my mom,” Johnson reflected with emotion. “I get here and I hear the news about Kenny. He’s not going to get those phone calls anymore. That’s tough.”
“I know Kenny was especially close to his mom and dad,” Barkley added. “He had great parents. Now she can rest in peace.”