I’ve done dozens obituary cartoons over the years but I can’t remember doing one that hurt this much to draw. The late NBA analyst Sekou Smith once worked at the Clarion Ledger and when he did, he sat a few desks away from me. It was fairly early in his career but it was very obvious that he had he the chops and personality to go to the very top — which he did. You knew when Sekou entered the room — there’d be laughter (he had a great laugh and smile) and jokes. He just filled the room. What you saw on television was who he was — he was a good friend, father, husband and son.

He was just a good guy. And with this drawing, I tried to capture how he lit up a room.

I kept in touch with Sekou through the magic of Facebook. He lived in the Atlanta area, near where my family lives. Earlier last year, we had planned on having lunch the next time I was in town. I wanted my son, who loves NBA basketball and broadcasting to meet Sekou. Unfortunately, the pandemic delayed and now has permanently ended those plans. One of the last conversations we had was about another former coworker who had died young because of cancer. He was stunned.

Just as I am by his passing.

COVID-19 took a bright star from us. And I’ll admit, his passing hit me kind of hard. Yes, we haven’t worked together for a long time and I haven’t seen him except on TV in a while. But in this time when we need more people like Sekou Smith, it just hurts to lose one of the very few that we have.

My prayers go out to his family. I know they are devastated like so many families are during this Godawful pandemic. The best I can offer for us to be a little more like Sekou. Laugh. Smile. Do your job well. Love. Care. And change the world.

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Marshall Ramsey, a nationally recognized editorial cartoonist, shares his cartoons and travels the state as Mississippi Today’s Editor-At-Large. He’s also host of a weekly statewide radio program and a television program on Mississippi Public Broadcasting and is the author of several books. Marshall is a graduate of the University of Tennessee and a 2019 recipient of the University of Tennessee Alumni Professional Achievement Award.