NBA Veteran Kenny 'The Jet' Smith Sets Home as Base - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise Magazine July/August 2018 Issue

Reported by Mia Hall:

After years of hesitation to have their family join them as television personalities, Kenny and Gwendolyn Osborne-Smith finally gave in. With a blended family, including five children ages 2 through 21, they decided that if they can emphasize the importance of having home as your foundation and make people laugh at the same time, then “Meet the Smiths” would benefit viewers nationwide.

[Related: Advice From the Entrepreneur Who Put the “Man” in Manicure]

As two-time NBA Champion and Emmy Award holding TNT Studio Analyst, Kenny knows about winning and has done it again in bringing positive images of the Black modern family to homes throughout the country. He and his wife Gwendolyn, an English model and actress, give viewers an inside look into how they manage their schedules, marriage, parenting, and more. “My wife and I always have the same goal but we don’t have the same route. The routes change and that’s where the conflict — and the comedy — comes too,” says Kenny. In each episode, you won’t see a perfect family, but you will see one that emphasizes character, integrity and “Good Clean Fun,” the namesake of the production company over the project.

Kenny took time while at the TNT studios in Atlanta to speak with BlackEnterprise.com about his show, family and his hometown.

BlackEnterprise: How did the concept of the show come about?

Smith: For about two or three years my wife and I had been asked to do a reality show because we have an eclectic family, and I kept saying no. Then we met with a production company and we kept laughing and I said if we can capture the laughter, I’m in.

How did your children react when you told them about the idea?

My eldest daughter Kayla [Brianna] is on Interscope. She has been in the music business for a while and has a song out that Birdman’s group produced, so she was in from the beginning. My other daughter Monique is a full time student in college now and she is also an actress. My two daughters were in from the start. We were more so worried about the little ones, Malloy and London, than anything else. My eldest son [KJ] was the only one that was a little bit defiant. He did not want to be in it because he’s being recruited by Division 1 schools.

You have a lot of principles that come up throughout the show. What do you hope viewers take out of it the most?

The one thing I want viewers to take out is “make home your base, your foundation.” Wherever you are in life, it’s just important to know that you have a home that is base. That’s what I think we instill in our kids that no matter how thick the storm is, if you have a good foundation, which is home, you will be able to withstand it.

I don’t look at it as a reality show I look at it as an unscripted comedy. We do it in a comedic form. Both elements usually make the screen, the reality and comedic part of it. In all aspects, its about home being your foundation.

You came home during NBA All Star Weekend when it was in NYC. How did your background prepare you for where you are now?

Growing up in New York City, you recognize it’s a melting pot of different people. I never had a lack of inclusion which a lot of times African Americans experience that. If you look at what’s going on today with Baltimore and everything else, I feel like there’s a lack of inclusion.

In NYC, you interact with so many races and nationalities on a daily basis some things I thought were typical, I found out were atypical. Things I accepted I found out many don’t accept. So I’m happy to have grown up in Queens, New York because of that.

Queens has different dynamic than NYC in general. I appreciate that. I didn’t know there were ethnic foods until I went to college. I used to say oh a Falafel is the $1.50 food. I ate food by the price, not thinking that it was not a food that you typically eat. I’m thankful for Queens providing me with that diverse experience.

You are in your 18th season as an NBA studio analyst. What is your advice for people that want to maintain longevity in their careers?

The one thing that you always deal with is values. I have an internal mechanism that when I feel it’s uncomfortable, then I don’t feel it’s godly, then I don’t do it. I don’t make decisions based on the dollar figure I’m going to make, I base it on how it makes me feel and that’s my mechanism to my spirituality. So I’m like “He’s telling me that doesn’t feel good so why am I doing it?” So I think you get a longevity when you make decisions based on that.

Also, I write down my goals and then I try to hit them. Take for example, someone may have an ultimate goal to be in the NBA. They reach all their other goals leading up to it but they’re disappointed when they don’t make the NBA, not realizing that they still achieved a lot.

My checklist goes on and on. I can do 10 things on my checklist sometimes and if I don’t reach 11, I don’t get discouraged because I did 10 other things that helped me get to that. A lot of athletes and people in general get discouraged because they’re only after one ultimate goal. I try to teach my kids, and I think the show is about, the steps, not the ultimate. The goal isn’t it, it’s about the steps that you will continually do. That’s what the show is about that’s what I do on TNT, that’s how I break down the games, and that’s how I live my life – it pretty consistent.

The steps will take you to grounds where you can see things higher and you might change your goal once you get up to a higher step. You may say “You know what, now that I’m here I can see I could actually do this too.” You can’t just say that that ultimate goal is the end all.

Join the Conversation

BLACK ENTERPRISE Editors

Black Enterprise is a black-owned multimedia company. Since the 1970s, its flagship product Black Enterprise magazine has covered African-American businesses with a readership of 3.7 million.


MORE ON BlackEnterprise.com