NFL draft coverage produced parental hugs for most of the 256 players selected.
But it’s doubtful if any of these parents displayed the pride and joy of Ron and Luanne Smith of Denver.
And the Smiths don’t have a potential NFL star.
They watched as their daughter Shelley, 57, a longtime ESPN reporter, made her first TV appearance since she was diagnosed with breast cancer last October and began debilitating chemotherapy.
Shelley Smith was in Hawaii, covering the selection of Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, the second college player picked (Tennessee Titans) during the three-day draft.
Displaying her new bald look, Smith provided reports Wednesday and Thursday in ESPN studios and was live with the Mariota family when he was selected Thursday night.
“She was spectacular,” her proud father noted. “Her knowledge and smile were there. We are happy — and very, very proud.
“It was a joy to see Shelley doing the job she loved. And I praise ESPN for sticking by her throughout her ordeal.”
Smith’s return performance generated a huge “welcome back” response via Facebook, Twitter and e-mail — in and out of the sports world. Smith was recuperating in her Los Angeles-area home when ESPN called, asking if she would like to go to Hawaii on assignment to cover Mariota’s entry into the NFL.
Mariota was one of a handful of notable college athletes who remained at home rather than going to the huge Chicago ceremony.
Smith’s travel plans included a visit to a Los Angeles barber who shaved her head.
Writing on ESPN Front Row, Smith noted: “Having no hair is a sign of strength. … At least I won’t have to worry about the wind blowing my hair.
“This experience has made me stronger and has given me a better understanding of how people can really help others.”
Her next assignment: a trip to New York on Tuesday for the Sports Emmy Awards, where she will be a presenter. Smith won an Emmy in 1997 for a segment on Magic Johnson during ESPN’s lengthy coverage of AIDS and athletes.
Smith is undergoing positive radiation treatment, which indicates the chemo procedure has been successful.
A Denver-area native, Smith graduated from Wheat Ridge High School and attended the University of Nebraska.
She joined ESPN in 1997, following eight years at Sports Illustrated.
Credit to the Denver Post who originally published this article