Lee Eric Smith

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‘What we’ve been working on for 50 years, they destroyed in three minutes’

In 1973, the Afro American Police Association was founded to help recruit more Black police officers to the Memphis Police Department. The thinking was that Black police officers would be more understanding and compassionate to Black Memphians than their white counterparts, while still upholding the...

Hardaway ‘grateful’ after probe removes NCAA ‘cloud’

Long before he became head coach of the men's basketball program at the University of Memphis, former NBA star Penny Hardaway was generous to his hometown — especially if it meant lifting young people out of poverty and tough circumstances. And that’s why an independent...

At LeMoyne-Owen, coaches sport outreach to extend Magicians’ brand

As a track star at Melrose High School in the 1980s, Rochelle Stevens had athletic scholarship offers from multiple big-name colleges and universities.  Given her talent, she may well have won Olympic Gold anywhere she laced up her cleats.  But Stevens chose to lace ‘em up...

Why I couldn’t stop crying on Inauguration Day

Dammit America, you got me. Again. Like so many of us, I made a point of being in front of a television on Inauguration Day. Given the dynamics of the past four years – let alone a pandemic and an attempted coup just two weeks...

After the Capitol siege, will we even be able to talk to each other?

I am known to be an optimist, some might even say naively so. I prefer the word pairing of “idealistic pragmatist” or “pragmatic idealist,” whichever floats your boat. As a turbulent Trump presidency has metastasized into an insurrectionist assault on the U.S. Capitol last week,...

GRITGRINDGRIZZ: Ja or no Ja, shorthanded Grizzlies determined to compete

Almost every NBA season, there’s a talented team with high expectations that sooner or later will have those expectations upended by injuries. The most recent and glaring example of that are the Golden State Warriors, who were already dealing with Klay Thompson's ACL injury...

Can Ja Morant, Grizz cubs jump Memphis into NBA Playoffs?

Can Ja Morant and the young cubs in Memphis make the leap into the NBA Playoffs? That’s the ultimate question of the season right? Just a few months ago, the Grizzlies narrowly missed the playoffs in the Orlando bubble, first by going just 2-6 (and not...

In first home game since March, Grizzlies pull away from Hawks for easy preseason win

It's been years since I last went to FedExForum to cover a Memphis Grizzlies game. OK, technically it's only been about nine months, but y'know ... COVID. Sure feels like years. Anyway, for the March 12 print edition of The New Tri-State Defender, I wrote...

Pandemic, social justice issues still loom over new NBA season

In a usual NBA season – y’know, like last year around this time – the winter months of December and January are the “dog days” of the season, filled with games that often don’t become meaningful until Spring. That’s when playoff hopefuls and their...

Election Day is behind us. Now the hard work begins

At 10:30 p.m. on Nov. 3 — as I type this sentence — various pundits on various networks are reminding us of what we already expected: That due to record-breaking early voter turnout, we don't know the outcome of the 2020 presidential turnout, and...