Saturday, April 7, 2012

Steven Smith

Steven Delano Smith was born in Highland Park, Michigan, on March 31, 1969. His parents are Donald and the late Clara Bell Smith, and his siblings are his brother Dennis and late sister Janice. Steve and his wife Millie have two sons, Brayden and Davis.

Steve attended Pershing High School in Detroit and Michigan State University from 1987-1991, where he became a First Team All American basketball player, and the Spartans’ all-time leading scorer, with 2,263 points. At that time he ranked 5th all-time in Big Ten history, and was also First Team All-Big Ten in his senior season.

In 1991 Steve was selected in the first round of the NBA draft by the Miami Heat. He also has played with the Atlanta Hawks (1994-1999), the Portland Trail Blazers (1999-2001), the San Antonio Spurs( won championship ring in 2003), the New Orleans Hornets (2003-2004), and the Charlotte Bobcats and Miami Heat during the 2004-2005 season.

He was also a member of the gold medal winning Dream Team II for the world championships in Toronto. In 2000 Steve was honored by being chosen to play in Sydney Australia for the gold medal winning United States Olympic Basketball team and represent his country.

Throughout his career Steve has carried with him a strong commitment to his community, which was handed down to him through his mother and father. His father a hard working Detroit city bus driver for 37 years instilled in him hard work and the importance of giving back. Steve has always been an active member in his “community” by working with and for inner city youth organizations in Michigan, Miami, Atlanta, Portland, San Antonio, New Orleans, and Charlotte.

In 1997, Steve, who believes you can never give too much, donated $2.5 million to Michigan State University. This donation helped construct the Clara Bell Smith Student-Athlete Academic Center, in honor of his late mother, Clara Bell Smith, who died of cancer during Steve’s rookie NBA season. This is the largest single donation ever made by a professional athlete to an alma mater. The building was formally dedicated on September 12, 1998, and it remains a state-of-the-art-facility in this country.

At Steve’s insistence, a portion of this generous donation also funds The Steve Smith/Pershing High/MSU Scholarship for Academic Achievement. In 2001, Steve donated an additional $600,000 to fully endow the scholarship. This scholarship provides, on an annual basis, high-achieving students from Detroit Pershing High School the opportunity to attend Michigan State University. In honor of Steve’s generous gift to Pershing High School, Pershing paid tribute to the basketball star by holding “Steve Smith Day” in September 2001, where they renamed the school’s gym after the 1987 graduate.

The Steve Smith Scholarship and the Charitable Fund is supported by additional money raised from Steve’s three annual charity golf outings. Together with the MSU Alumni Club of Mid-Michigan, the MSU Alumni Club of West Michigan, the MSU Alumni Club of Kalamazoo County and the MSU Detroit Area Development Council, approximately $500,000 has been raised to help support the Steve Smith Scholarship Fund, MSU, and local charities in the Detroit, Lansing, Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo areas.

Steve’s generosity has been recognized not only by the various charities, organizations, and institutions he donates to, but by the NBA as well. During the 1997-1998 NBA season, Steve received the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award, and was later awarded the Joe Dumars Sportsmanship Award in 2002. His goodwill and compassion for others placed Steve in an elite group of athletes when he was inducted into the World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame in 2006. Steve served as a member of both the National Alumni Board and National Development Board of Michigan State University.

Steve is currently a member of the national board of Reading is Fundamental (RIF), a non-profit organization created to eradicate illiteracy in our nation’s urban public schools. He is also a board member for the Special Olympics of Georgia; the Nsoro Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to enriching the lives of foster children; and serves on the Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Hughes Spalding Community Board, which is the largest clinical care provider for children in the country.

On September 30, 2005, Steve returned to MSU to announce his retirement from the NBA after 14 seasons. He still remains involved with basketball, however, as a TV analyst for NBA TV and the Big Ten Network. If anything else need be known about Steve, his character and/or his values, it can be easily found from his own words which he delivered at the January 1997 announcement of his donation to Michigan State University. His words, in part, were as follows:

“I have had great coaches, but none greater than my mother. I have had great role models, but none greater than my mom. I have had great teammates and fans, but none greater than Clara Bell Smith.”


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