Last week I wrote a tribute to the amazing — and newly retired — Sports Illustrated writer Gary Smith. I mentioned how I first read one of Smith’s famous long-form, back-of-the-magazine epics as a teenager; I then rediscovered him as a young journalist.
Turns out I wasn’t alone.
One of Smith’s successors at Sports Illustrated — and one of the finest heirs to his long-form legacy — had a similar experience and has reaped the benefits of a rewarding relationship with this sportswriting icon.
That young journalist is Thomas Lake.
His career has taken him from daily newspapers to regional magazines to, currently, the most prestigious sports magazine in the world. And roughly midway through that journey, Lake got a major assist from his future SI colleague.
Lake discusses Smith’s influence, his own work, and advice for young journalists on this episode of the Telling The Story podcast.
I met Lake several years ago after reading one of his finest pieces, “2 on 5”, which found its way into the following year’s edition of the Best American Sportswriting anthology. Upon reading the article, a textured and thoughtful look at a huge sports moment — and its long-term aftermath — in a small town in Alabama, I figured Lake was closer to Smith’s age bracket than my own.
I was wrong. Smith is in his early 30’s and has always penned a prolific number of memorable pieces for Sports Illustrated. He is a writer on the rise, and yet he has already made a huge imprint.
Matt Pearl is the author of the Telling the Story blog and podcast. Feel free to comment below or e-mail Matt at firstname.lastname@example.org.