The Life of a Black Athlete at SDSU


Ernie Anderson/SDSU Athletics

SDSU wide receiver Kobe Smith during the 2019 season. (Photo Courtesy of SDSU Athletics)

by Jayden Hanzy, Staff Writer

During the annual celebration of Black History Month, it is important to acknowledge and honor all of the accomplishments of African American athletes. 

For centuries, sports have brought communities together, entertained people and inspired those who consume them. 

Plenty of Black athletes around the world has brought communities together while entertaining and changing lives. Not only are sports important for the people who watch them but they are also beneficial for the athletes involved. 

“I think the lessons that sports have taught me, need to be taught to other young Black athletes,” assistant football coach Hunkie Cooper said when asked about what sports mean to Black athletes. 

SDSU’s athletic program has benefited from the African American athletes that have been involved with the sports program. 

Former Aztecs such as Kawhi Leonard, Michael Cage, Marshall Faulk, Herman Edwards, Tony Gwynn, Kieshsha Garnes and Chana Perry are perfect examples of Black excellence through athletes on campus. These alumni have broken records, won championships, all while wearing their Black and Aztec pride on their sleeves. 

Fast-forwarding to the current state of SDSU, the group of Black athletes are continuing to carry the torch lit by the Aztecs of the past.

The Black student population at SDSU, not just athletes, have a tight-knit bond that keeps the culture so strong on campus and intends to leave their mark while representing the people that have come before them.

“Being a Black athlete at a predominantly white school has its challenges. Overall though, I can’t complain about the different scenery because it’s life,” senior wide receiver Kobe Smith said when asked what being a Black athlete meant to him. “The Black athletes around this campus want to be heard and they love what they do, if not they wouldn’t be here.” 

Being a Black athlete is not an easy feat to accomplish on a predominately white campus.

“A challenge that I face being a Black athlete is being stereotyped as just another Black athlete, which causes me to be more cautious of my actions,” sophomore guard Lamont Butler said. “What makes it worthwhile is the footprint that I can leave in the world and an opportunity to change my family’s life.”

The Black athlete experience at SDSU is worthwhile because of the greatness that has been accomplished in the past, current and will continue to be accomplished in the future. Without these athletes, the Aztec legacy would not be the same.