Stephen A. Smith Responds to Backlash Over Will Smith Comments

Stephen A. Smith and Will Smith at the premiere of Bad Boys: Ride or Die. (Credit: YouTube and Shutterstock)

Stephen A. Smith has clarified the comments he made over the weekend about not wanting to see Will Smith in Bad Boys: Ride or Die.

On the Tuesday, June 11 episode of his digital “The Stephen A. Smith Show,” the ESPN host and YouTuber responded to the backlash over his previous remarks about Smith.

“I’m not here to apologize, but I am here to clarify,” he began.

The YouTube star said he’s not sure he’ll ever support the actor again for slapping Chris Rock at the 2022 Oscars. Still, he said he doesn’t want to discourage anyone else from watching Smith’s movies.

“I don’t know if I’ll ever get over what Will Smith did to Chris Rock, but that doesn’t mean that I have to, and it doesn’t mean that it’s a license for me to negatively impact Will Smith,” he stated. “Will Smith slapping Chris Rock was a devastating thing. I’m not talking just for Chris Rock, who’s a friend of mine, I’m talking about the Black community.”

Related Story: ‘Bad Boys: Ride or Die’ Rides Away With Huge $56 Million Domestic Box Office Take

The sportscaster went on to call the slap a “blemish” on the Oscar-winning actor’s career and on Black Hollywood.

“I was thinking about Black folks everywhere aspiring to be in this business, aspiring to succeed and something like that happens and it was a blemish on all of us,” he said. “That’s what I was thinking about when I said what I said about being ‘torn’ as to wanting to go see the movie, but not wanting to see Will Smith.”

Stephen A. Smith said he’s a big fan of Smith’s co-star, Martin Lawrence, and is glad the fourth installment of the Bad Boys franchise performed well at the box office.

Smith previously angered Will Smith’s fans when he pointed out the movie  wasn’t performing as well financially as the last film in the franchise, Bad Boys for Life.

Bad Boys: Ride or Die opened at the top of the domestic box office after taking in $56 million over the weekend and earning a total of $104.6 million worldwide. Bad Boys for Life debuted in January 2020 and rang up a domestic debut of $62 million.

Numbers aside, Stephen A. Smith praised Will Smith for going to public showings of his new film and surprising fans at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Cinemark in south Los Angeles, which is a predominantly Black and Brown neighborhood.

The sportscaster concluded: “You saw how fans swarmed him, you saw how all the Black people swarmed him, because he’s still loved. He’s loved by all of us, he’s loved by me, still.”

On the June 9 episode of his podcast, Stephen A. Smith called Will Smith a “bully” and said he owes the Black community an explanation.

“You gotta provide an explanation as to why that happened,” the sportscaster previously said. “I don’t care if it’s with The Breakfast Club. I don’t care if it’s with Oprah. Because you know it ain’t gonna be me, right? He ain’t gonna sit down with me because some questions are gonna get asked, but I don’t care who it’s with. You gotta provide an explanation as to why that happened. It can’t be that you went to therapy and you learned the error of your ways, or you’ve addressed some of the demons that were plaguing you mentally and emotionally and spiritually. That’s not good enough! And even though we weren’t the ones that were slapped literally, ladies and gentlemen, figuratively the Black community was slapped.”

He added that “Chris Rock is damaged” and probably won’t “ever” get over what happened.

The podcaster said the actor probably wouldn’t have hit a white comedian for telling a joke about his wife.

“We know you wouldn’t have smacked Ricky Gervais, Bill Maher, Bill Burr or a host of others,” Smith said. “We know you wouldn’t have done that. No apology is necessary. I’m just saying a lot of folks ain’t get over that. A lot of folks find it hard to just go to the movies to watch you. I’m one of those people.”

Stephen A. Smith trended on social media after making those comments.

Watch his latest remarks below:

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