Stephen A. Smith I Nearly Died From COVID-19 ... '103-Degree Fever Every Night'

Stephen A. Smith says his battle with COVID-19 included pneumonia in both his lungs as well as a 103-degree fever "every night" ... and things got so bad, he wondered if he was going to die.

The ESPN personality -- who returned to "First Take" this week after being away from the show to fight the virus the past several weeks -- spoke in-depth Monday about his bout with corona, and he revealed it was pure hell.

Smith said there night sweats, fevers, headaches and a cough -- and he said it was all so awful, he was forced to spend New Year's Day in the hospital.

"I can't tell you how lucky and sincerely blessed I am to be sitting here with you guys today," Smith told his co-hosts, "because two-and-a-half, three weeks ago, I didn't know if I was going to make it."

Smith said doctors told him if he hadn't been vaccinated, he likely would be dead.

"That’s how bad it was," Smith said. "I had pneumonia in both lungs. My liver was bad. It ravaged me."

Smith, though, was in good spirits in his return to TV -- he trolled the hell out of the Dallas Cowboys relentlessly for their playoff loss -- and he added that he's now testing negative for the virus and is on his way to getting back to 100 percent.

Christina Haack & Joshua Hall Not Waiting to Get Hitched ... Life's a Beach Right Now!!!

Christina Haack isn’t married to Joshua Hall just yet ... but they sure look like they’re already in the honeymoon phase.

The HGTV star is down in Cabo with her fiancé, where they hit the beach on Saturday ... and packed on a lot of PDA while facing the waves. Doesn’t look like they ever fully made it into the water either -- as you can see, they were a little preoccupied.

Check out the pics ... you see CH hugging up on Josh from behind, from the side and just about every other direction ... all while showing off her massive diamond ring. Love birds, no doubt, and if this is any indication ... their “I dos” can't come fast enough.

Christina confirmed last year Josh had, indeed, popped the question and that she'd said yes ... which was already suspected after photos of her wearing the engagement ring leaked. They’ve been together for about a year or so now -- the couple reportedly first started dating sometime in 2021, and things obviously moved quickly ... because Christina is ready to be a bride anew.

She finalized her divorce from Ant Anstead just last year -- this after 3 years of marriage -- and moved on from her previous ex-husband, Tarek El Moussa, back in 2018.

Jamie Lynn Spears Not Going On Book Tour ... Didn't Write This For Money!!!

Jamie Lynn Spears took a hard pass on doing a nationwide tour to promote her new book ... because she's not in it for the money ... so say sources connected to her.

Our sources say Britney's little sis was approached about doing a book tour but she was adamant it wasn't for her.

It's a departure from how most celebs do business ... they usually trek across the country promoting their books, encouraging folks to buy and doing meet-and-greets at book stores.

The sources say Jamie Lynn didn't write her book, "Things I Should Have Said," to make a killing. Instead, they say she wrote it to address her past, heal from it and move on.

We're told, "a portion" of the proceeds will go to a number of charities. They won't say which charities because Jamie Lynn tried to donate profits from the book to a charity last October, but the charity rejected her gesture because of all the backlash. So, our sources say Jamie Lynn doesn't want to name the charities this time around, to avoid a similar outcome.

That said, she'll still pocket some of the proceeds, but the sources insist that's not the motivating factor.

As you know, some excerpts are already being ripped by Britney ... with Jamie Lynn's older sister repeatedly lashing out on social media.

Britney's upset both by Jamie Lynn's interview on "Nightline" and a passage in the book where JLS claims Britney once locked them both in a room with a knife.

We're told Jamie Lynn is not shocked by Britney's reaction, because she knows her sister better than anyone and was prepared for such reactions from Britney and others.

"I WAS SCARED"
ABC

Our sources say Jamie Lynn feels it's her story to tell ... and it's important to address what she lived through so she can move forward.

While Jamie Lynn did a couple of media interviews about the book, we're told she doesn't feel like it's necessary to go further with a tour ... and she'd simply rather spend her time with her kids.

Jake Paul Poses Nude With Model Girlfriend ... For 25th Birthday

Jake Paul stripped all the way down to his birthday suit for his 25th cake day on Monday ... going buck naked for a sexy photo with his model girlfriend.

The Problem Child just posted the spicy pic to his social media page ... showcasin' his naked bod while a bikini-clad Julia Rose did just enough to cover up his junk.

Jake rocked a hat and some expensive jewelry -- and not a thing more -- while Rose had her hands draped all over him.

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Jake captioned the photo with some of his goals for his next calendar year -- one of which included "go to outer space with Jeff, Richard, or Elon."

The b-day love for the YouTuber-turned-boxing superstar, meanwhile, has poured in all day ... with Rose writing on her social media page, "happy birthday dubba dubba…I can’t wait to feed you popcorn and kiss your nose until you turn 80."

Jake's older bro, Logan Paul, added, "happy bday @jakepaul love you bro."

By the looks of his social media activity, seems Jake is spending the special occasion in Utah -- and riding around in helicopters while there.

BIRTHDAY RIDE

Of course, dude has every reason to celebrate this past trip around the sun ... he became a huge fight star -- and also reportedly made $45 million.

Happy birthday, indeed.

Delta Sigma Theta Doc Uses Patient's Surgery to Plug Sorority ... I'm Sorry, Stat!!!

A surgeon, who's also a Delta Sigma Theta sorority member, is apologizing for posting pics from a patient's procedure ... all to plug a historic day for her sorority.

Dr. Nicole E. Williams ruffled a lot of feathers by sharing photos and info about the surgery she performed on January 13 -- she boasted about removing 22 fibroids from a patient who's a member of another sorority ... Alpha Kappa Alpha. The photos showed the fibroids on a table next to Dr. Williams who was making the Delta hand signal to rep her sorority.

That day also happened to be founders day for Delta Sigma Theta, so the good doc thought she'd show some pride -- but it totally backfired as she faced swift online backlash.

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Dr. Williams has now deleted the original post and backtracked, saying ... "A terrible decision was made. I unequivocally and prayerfully apologize for any hurt I may have caused."

A lot of the outrage came from folks who felt she was violating a patient's privacy simply to promote her sorority.

She did provide a history lesson in the original post, pointing out the 22 members who founded DST in 1913 had broken off from Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.

Both organizations are part of the 9 widely known historically Black fraternities and sororities, and when it comes to repping yours, it's fair to say it's a serious matter. Doc Williams sure thinks so ... within reason.

LeBron James Gushes Over Wife, Savannah ... 'Beautiful Queen'

LEBRON IS LOVIN' IT

LeBron James is quickly getting over the Lakers' struggles and focusing on the positives ... by losing his mind over his wife's latest Instagram post.

The Lakers are below .500 with a 21-22 record so far this season, forcing the King to publicly apologize via social media on Sunday.

While LBJ's social media activity seemed like a downer, it got much better once Savannah posted a gorgeous look on Instagram Sunday night ... with Bron gushing multiple times over the shot.

"When you walked downstairs I said to myself 'GODDAMN!!! That’s MINE'🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥," LBJ said in response to Savannah's red hair and black outfit.

"SIMPLY BEAUTIFUL Queen 😍😍😍😍😍😍😍"

James didn't stop there ... he reposted the video on his own IG, saying, "GODDESS QUEEN 👸🏾!!"

"Lucky Black Man I am. SHEESH she’s BAD!!," he added. "It’s gone be a great week when you start it off with a Monday like this!"

Of course, LeBron and Savannah -- who were were high school sweethearts -- got married in 2013 and have three kids together ... Bronny, Bryce and Zhuri.

It's nice to know that no matter how badly the Lakers stink up the joint, LeBron can still find a silver lining.

Vic Mensa Arrested for Shrooms at Customs

Vic Mensa's having a bad trip -- back from Africa, that is -- because U.S. Customs Agents have him in custody for allegedly returning with a stash of mushrooms ... TMZ has learned.

The rapper was taken into custody Saturday at Dulles International Airport outside D.C. ... where he'd just returned from Ghana. According to our law enforcement sources, Vic was pulled aside for a secondary search, and that's when agents found what they believe are shrooms.

We're told the feds are still testing the substance they allegedly found to confirm it is what they think it is.

Vic was booked for felony narcotics possession. Fun fact: Psilocybin (the scientific name for shrooms) remains a Schedule I substance under federal law -- although there's now a push in some states to legalize it ... and they've already been decriminalized in some communities.

Vic had been hanging in Ghana with Chance the Rapper and lots of people in high places. The duo posed for pics with President Nana Akufo-Addo.

The Chicago-born and raised artists had been traveling around Africa for a couple weeks to encourage tourism.

We've reached out to Vic's reps, but no word back yet.

First day back from vacay always sucks, but Vic's got it especially tough.

Novak Djokovic Back In Serbia ... After Getting Boot From Australia

Stick a fork in it -- Novak Djokovic's Australian Open vaccine drama is officially over for now ... as the tennis superstar landed back in Serbia after getting deported from Down Under.

34-year-old ND touched down in Belgrade on Monday and was met by a small group of fans ... with one sneaking in a selfie with the controversial player.

As we previously reported, the 9-time champ fought like hell to be able to defend his title in 2022 ... but his vaccine status eventually led to his one-way ticket outta Australia.

Now, as Novak was set to take the court on Monday ... he's back home and will be forced to watch from the couch.

While his AO hopes have disappeared, Djokovic now has the French Open to worry about in May. French officials recently announced a new law requiring the jab in order to attend sports events would not have exceptions ... meaning Novak could run into the same issue again.

Rafael Nadal -- the current #5-ranked player -- pretty much spoke for everyone in an interview with CNN over the weekend ... saying he was "tired" of the situation surrounding Djokovic, calling it a "circus."

Michael Jackson Impersonator Kickin' Ass in Vegas!!! Here's How It Happened

11:44 AM PT -- The Michael Jackson impersonator who took down a guy trying to fight him is speaking up about what exactly led up to this confrontation ... and it sounds like it was a random attack from somebody who wasn't well, so says MJ himself.

WANNA BE STARTIN' SOMETHIN'
TMZ.com

We talked to performer Santana Jackson on "TMZ Live" to get the blow-by-blow ... and he truly makes it seem like this came out of nowhere, unprovoked. Watch how he explains the story ... SJ claims the man in green straight-up hit him for no reason, which set things off.

As Santana mentions to us here, he's been training in wrestling for a while now ... so he knew how to subdue the guy, noting he didn't wanna hurt him more than he had to. Eventually, the cops showed ... and Santana says they, too, got a taste of the action.

The perp was apparently hauled off to jail ... and as for Santana, he carried on with his act. What a pro!

A Michael Jackson impersonator got the best of a dude on the mean streets of Las Vegas, and ... well, it's hilarious!

There's not a whole lot of info on what's behind the fight, but it went down on Fremont Street.

The fight looks almost slapstick ... MJ and the dude squaring off with fists raised, and then they tangle.

Michael's ground game is far superior to the guy in green, and he eventually gets the guy in a headlock and begins to squeeze. At a point, it's not funny anymore, and it looks like the guy might lose consciousness. Some passersby disentangle the 2 and no one seems worse for wear.

We don't know what started the fight, but the shirt on the guy in green reads, "CAN'T FIX STUPID."

9/15/11
BIKINI BOTTOM BRAWL
TMZ.com

It's the most entertaining lookalike fight since SpongeBob squared off with 2 women.

Originally Published -- 7:24 AM PT

Kylie Jenner Gets Permanent Restraining Order Against Obsessed Fan

Kylie Jenner got another layer of protection after a judge ordered an obsessed fan to stay clear of her for 5 years.

Kylie's been dogged by a guy who's been showing up at her Holmby Hills home over the last year. He was arrested in December after violating a temporary restraining order by going to her house and buzzing the gate.

Kylie's lawyer, Shawn Holley, filed legal docs to make the restraining order permanent, and the judge obliged ... so the fan is prohibited from going near Kylie or otherwise harassing her.

It's not the only obsessed fan Kylie's dealing with. Another guy showed up near Kylie's house, flowers in hand, to propose to her. He ended up on a neighbor's property by mistake and was arrested for misdemeanor trespass.

All of the Kardashians have had issues with obsessed fans and stalkers ... some have actually entered their homes. Really scary.

MLK Original Draft Pages From Book ... Selling for $225k!!!

Until recently, you probably couldn't get your hands on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s handwritten draft of his book, but now things have changed ... if you have $225,000 that is!

That's right. Draft pages from the civil rights icon's book "Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story” are up for sale on momentsintime.com. They'd previously been a part of a private collection.

The book was first published back in 1958 when Dr. King was 29, and the handwritten pages are from chapter 3. Dr. King writes about the significance of the emerging civil rights moment, chronicling how Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat to a white person in Montgomery, Alabama back in '55.

In the handwritten draft, King writes about the bus boycott ... the first large-scale protest against segregation. King wrote, "After a series of telephone calls back and forth ... they agreed that the Negroes should boycott the buses."

Now, you can have a piece of history in the palm of your hands ... well, if you have a few hundred thousand to spare.

Fans Spark 'Betty White Challenge' ... Encouraging Animal Rights Activism

DO IT FOR BETTY
TMZ.com

Fans from all over the nation are gearing up for what would've been Betty White's 100th birthday ... joining in on a challenge encouraging fans to spread the love to animals in need and donate to local orgs.

Brittany Vizcarra from Paw Works joined us on TMZ live to pitch the "Betty White Challenge." As you know, Betty was a fierce animal rights advocate who spent her adult life tirelessly working for animal rights orgs. Brittany says this challenge is about everybody doing more -- just like Betty -- by caring for abandoned and abused animals.

Paw Works is an animal rescue org that places unwanted animals in L.A. shelters into loving homes.

Since the Betty White challenge has taken off on social media, some orgs have seen an uptick in donations ... and with the help of people like Brittany, those donations are bound to pour in all over the U.S., as the 17th approaches.

Brittany says it's super simple to "be more like Betty" ... folks can volunteer, adopt, foster or find any other way to get involved.

Tune in to "TMZ Live" Monday to watch the full interview, and to celebrate what would have been Betty's 100th!!!

Muhammad Ali Walkout Robe From Iconic '65 Liston Fight Hits Auction ... Could Fetch $500K

The robe worn by Muhammad Ali in the leadup to his famous 1965 fight with Sonny Liston is up for auction ... and TMZ Sports has learned it's such a rare piece of boxing history, it could sell for over $500,000.

Ali donned the garment on his way to the ring in his rematch with Liston -- which many consider one of the most memorable fights ever.

Ali not only knocked out Liston in iconic fashion in the ring (you've no doubt seen the picture of the KO at this point) ... but the fight also marked the first time he had boxed under the name Muhammad Ali.

You'll recall, following his first match with Liston in 1964, Ali changed his name from Cassius Clay, calling it "a slave name." He never fought using the moniker again.

For the rematch with Liston a year later, just before he won in convincing fashion, Ali donned a white piece with "Muhammad Ali" emblazoned on the back in red letters.

According to Goldin Auctions, it's been photo matched with footage from the event to prove it's real ... and experts now tell us it could bring in half a million dollars when bidding ends next month.

Little Paul Maclean in 'A River Runs Through It' 'Memba Him?!

Montana native Vann Gravage was only 7 years old when he was cast as the cute kid version of the mischievous younger brother Paul Maclean -- who lives a life of fly fishing and adventure-seeking alongside his older brother Norman Maclean -- in Robert Redford's Academy Award-winning 1992 film "A River Runs Through It."

The coming of age classic is packed with A-list actors including Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the young version of the big bro, Norman, Craig Sheffer as the adult Dartmouth grad who returns home, Norman Maclean ... and of course Brad Pitt as the hometown big fish and gambler and grown-up version of, Paul Maclean.

Guess what Vann Gravage he looks like all grown up and still fishing!

Tulsa Pastor Michael Todd Rubs Spit on Face of Churchgoer ... To Make Point in Sermon

5:42 PM PT -- Word is, the spit-receiver is Mike's younger brother -- which ... doesn't make us feel any better about this. Still weird ... still gross.

A famous pastor out of Oklahoma got very literal in his sermon this weekend about seeing God's hazy vision for ourselves in 2022 -- needing to hawk one to make his point.

Michael Todd, who leads the Transformation Church in Tulsa, conjured up grossed-out reactions from his congregation Sunday during his service -- which was being streamed for the folks at home. The reason ... he wiped his own spit all over the face of a parishioner, who was up there volunteering for the yuck fest.

Even crazier ... the guy just stood there and took it!!! Check out this video of the moment it happened -- it's surreal to see, because Mike really builds up to it with a lot of theater.

The whole purpose of doing this, it seems, was to emphasize his analogy about how "receiving vision from God might get nasty." We'll let him do the explaining -- 'cause, frankly, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to us -- but he seems to be saying ... sometimes, you'll  have to go through some muck to fulfill God's will. Or ... something like that!

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It's ironic ... as the audience gasps in horror at his weird stunt, MT fully leans into it ... arguing that's the exact sort of response one will get for answering God's call, no matter how counterintuitive it might feel ... like letting someone rub a bunch of loogies/saliva on your mug.

Of course, he's getting totally roasted online over this ... as is this poor guy who allowed himself to be the guinea pig. Y'know ... on account of the pandemic and all.

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Just doesn't seem safe ... even if God cosigns. 🤷🏽‍♂️

Originally Published -- 5:23 PM PT

Novak Djokovic Deported from Australia ... After Losing Appeal

Novak Djokovic won't participate in the Australia Open after all ... he's finally been deported.

The tennis star got the boot Sunday after a 3-judge panel rejected his appeal to stay in the country after Aussie Immigration Minister Alex Hawke revoked his visa for a second time ... now under a "health and good order" rationale. He was scheduled to start playing Monday.

Djokovic left Australia on a plane to Dubai earlier in the day ... but it's unclear where his final destination lies. Serbia's Prime Minister called the decision "scandalous" ... and ND said he was disappointed as well.

One of Djokovic's arguments for being allowed to stay -- even though he's unvaccinated, which is a requirement for anyone traveling down under right now -- was that kicking him out would only fan anti-vaxx sentiments, antithetical to what the Aussie government wants.

The court wasn't buying that though ... and ruled against him. This, of course, comes after Djokovic was cut loose earlier last week when a judge found the government acted too hastily in revoking his visa/detaining him the first time ... but the government struck again under different reasoning the 2nd time -- citing public safety/interest.

Djokovic was given a medical exemption to begin with by two different tennis bodies, because he'd caught COVID in December -- but in the end, the Australian government overrode that ... pointing that, in and of itself, wasn't a loophole that could be allowed on their watch.

'Til next time!

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