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ESPN Reporter Marty Smith Says Overwhelming Response To His Small Gesture Proves Kindness Prevails

A Georgia journalist's candid video of Smith gently offering him professional advice has registered more than 1M views on Twitter

Jack Patterson (R) snagged a quick selfie with ESPN reporter Marty Smith following their encounter after an LSU-Alabama football game. (Photo courtesy of Jack Patterson’s Twitter feed)

Following the LSU at Alabama football game on Nov. 9, a man named Jack Patterson was taping a standup for the local CBS station in Columbus, Ga.

“It was a long day for all of us. I had just put on my backpack after my last live shot and was heading home,” said ESPN reporter Marty Smith. “Then I saw Jack standing there doing his shot so I waited for him to finish [something Smith says is common courtesy for reporters]. I watched him struggling and I thought, ‘Man, I’ve been through that so many times.’”

Smith said taping a standup is even harder than doing live television. And according to Twitter many industry veterans agree.

“When it’s a taped element the expectation is perfection not only from yourself, but also from your employer. And it’s tough. We’ve all been there, it gets frustrating. Sometimes you need to wait, take a few deep breaths and try again.

“I just wanted him to know that we’re in the same situation. And to let him know he’s doing an awesome job,” Smith said. “I don’t need to set up my own shot and make sure it’s perfect. ESPN does that for me. I just have to make sure I say the right words. So I wanted him to know that he was doing an amazing job and with great spirit and passion, that’s always going to win.”

What Smith didn’t realize at the time was that his kind gesture was being captured on camera and Patterson was going to share it with (so far) more than 1 million people.

“First of all – to say what it meant to him is humbling would be a gross understatement. And the fact that he was moved by it — so much so — that he put it out publicly. I’ve been floored with how many broadcasters weighed in on this. How many encouraged Jack, how many let him and everybody in their timelines know, ‘Hey, we’ve been there,’” said Smith.

Smith said too often everyone’s social media timelines are filled with negativity.

This, to him, was proof that everyone needs encouragement.

“I wrote about this in my book, whether it’s letting somebody in front of you while in traffic, or asking how their day is, offering an umbrella, grabbing the door — the smallest gestures have the most unbelievable life-reaching tentacles,” Smith said. “Now they’re going to do the same thing for someone else because it shifted their thought process.”

At the end of the day, Smith said it comes down to something his mother always told him, “treat others how you want to be treated and it’s not hard to be kind.

“The response to that post filled me up with every bit as much encouragement as it did for Jack because it was a great reminder that grace, empathy and kindness prevail and we all need somebody to believe in us and encourage us.”

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