“SportsCenter”'s Newest Anchor Amina Smith Relaxes by Watching NBA Games 'No One's Interested In' (Exclusive)

The New York City native joined the afternoon edition of ESPN's flagship series in early April

<p>Christopher Beauchamp / ESPN Images</p> Amina Smith

Christopher Beauchamp / ESPN Images

Amina Smith

SportsCenter anchor Amina Smith’s near-obsession with watching obscure NBA games in her downtime is lost on her husband, Kansas City Chiefs safety Deon Bush.

“It's gotten to the point where my husband will be like, ‘Oh my god, seriously, please, we cannot watch,’ “ Smith, 31, tells PEOPLE exclusively. “And I'm like, ‘Oh my gosh, I cannot believe I'm at that point right now. Literally, even if it's a game that obviously no one's interested in, you have a Hornets game in the middle of the season, it's like, okay, let me just see what's going on.”

But for Smith, it’s a dedication that has served her well, no doubt helping the Brooklyn, New York native recently land her “dream” job — as an ESPN anchor.

“ESPN has always been the pinnacle of sports,” Smith, a former track star, tells PEOPLE. “I remember getting so excited when we used to do this track meet in the summertime at ESPN Worldwide Sports, and so I would run every year as an AAU championship. It was such a big to-do because ESPN was involved and they would be shooting the races and everything like that. So definitely something that throughout my career I've had on the front of my mind.”

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Smith ran the 3000 meter and 2000 meter steeplechase — “All the long things that no one ever likes to,” she says — at the University of South Carolina.

But once she transferred to the University of Miami, she hung up her spikes after realizing that she didn’t want to get up at 5 a.m. to run anymore, she says.

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Instead, Smith ran after her degree, and worked for ESPNU, NBC and FOX affiliates, along with a stint at the campus station, UMTV.

After applying for hundreds of jobs, the former athlete landed a role as a reporter and substitute anchor at 6 News in Lawrence, Kansas in 2014.

Going from a football school to working in a town known for its college basketball was an adjustment, Smith recalls.

Related: Kansas City Chiefs Beat San Francisco 49ers in Overtime to Win Second Super Bowl in a Row

“I get to Lawrence, Kansas and [University of Kansas] kids are lining up just for the lottery of getting into a game at Allen Fieldhouse,” Smith says. “And I got lucky enough to experience this, and through my job go to a couple of games and I was like, okay, now I see why people are lined up at 4 a.m. to get in.”

Fast forward to three years ago, and Smith landed in Boston. Then, her basketball background came into play as a host for NBC Sports Boston, covering the Celtics as well as the New England Patriots — and she says the city’s fans were “very opinionated.”

“They're very in your face, they will let you know how they feel,” Smith says about her time covering the New England teams. “They do not sugarcoat it, but the one thing I will say about that fan base is that they're very loyal and then once you're in with them, you're in."

She adds, “And so luckily I was able to kind of gain that trust of the audience just with my knowledge of the game and how I do my work on air and we've kind of been locked in ever since.”

Smith’s schedule is packed these days, since making the real-life move to Bristol, Conn.

<p>Courtesy of Amina Smith</p> Deon Bush (left) and Amina Smith with their son

Courtesy of Amina Smith

Deon Bush (left) and Amina Smith with their son

Her transition to the national market has the support of her husband of three years — who just signed a 1-year contract extension with the Chiefs, per SB Nation — and the seeming approval of their 14-month-old son Deon “Deuce” Jr., whom Smith calls their “chunky little boss.”

Last year, Smith was about to give birth and was unable to join her husband and family at the Super Bowl in Arizona when the Chiefs played the Philadelphia Eagles.

In February, she was lucky enough to get the chance to celebrate in person when the Chiefs won the title again — and it had her appreciating the moment both as both a proud wife and a working journalist.

“I mean, back-to-back is insane,” she tells PEOPLE. “That's not something I thought that would happen. So I got that experience, got to go out to Vegas. We had like 20, 30 family members that came out, brought the baby out and everything. So it was really cool.”

She adds, “That's always an amazing thing for me just to have that point of view and also is something that I keep in the back of my head when I am doing interviews, when I am doing my work. Then it's just like, okay, these are still humans. These are still people who are enjoying their jobs and they're working hard for what they want to do. So it's a very interesting dynamic.”

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