There is no denying the fact that the world of professional sports would be nowhere near what it is today without the fans and supporters. Every sold out game, every new sponsor, every new viewership deal are all made possible because of the billions of sports fans worldwide. Without supporters, the owners, players, coaches, training staff, stadium employees and many others would not be in the position they sit in. Though we the fans do so much for the teams we love and support, it can seem that we are under appreciated or forgotten. As much as the fans don’t think they see it, there are many athletes who are well aware and grateful for the love and passion shown to them by the fans. One of these many players is Detroit Lions running back Kevin Smith.
The Miami, Florida native was drafted by the Lions in the 2008 NFL Draft and quickly signed a 3-year deal with the franchise. Though he’s seen his ups and downs during his time in Detroit there has been one constant throughout his career, his commitment to giving back and his love for the fans.
“Without the fans and the people across the world that watch football we wouldn’t be able to do what we do. Giving back is a way for us players to show our appreciation and show that we are regular human beings like everybody else,” Smith explained.
“I do it because it’s fun and I like meeting new people and doing stuff, especially with the kids. Any time I have an opportunity to go out and help I’m all for it,” he added.
Though Smith does not run or operate his own charitable foundation he remains highly active in both his hometown of Miami and within the city of Detroit. Thanksgiving and Christmas are very busy and important times for many families, which presents its own motivation for Smith to be active and help those who are less fortunate. Through the Lions organization, Kevin, alongside his teammates assist in handing out turkeys and run local toy drives in the Detroit area during the Christmas season.
A proud child of Miami, Kevin also goes back home yearly to host his own Easter event and is proud to make a difference for the youth of his hometown.
“I do an Easter drive in Florida. My first year doing it was last Easter and I plan to continue doing it every year,” said Smith.
“For me, it’s just a way to give back to my community. I love playing with the kids, so whenever there’s a camp or a chance to set up a fun day like my Easter drive I jump at it. I would just like the people to know I appreciate them and most of all to know that I’ll never forget where I come from,” elucidated the Central Florida Alumni.
A lifelong football fan, Kevin Smith had his share of NFL heroes growing up, but his love for children and willingness to help others came from his mother, a hero he watched closely for years.
“Growing up my mother was definitely a role model for me. She’s been a teacher for over 25 years and just to see her passion for kids I knew that when I was able to give back I would definitely do the same thing,” he said.
During his long journey to the pros, Smith had never had it set that if he were to be blessed with the opportunity of playing football he would give back to society. For him it has always been something of a natural nature.
“I never really thought about giving back, it just kind of came naturally. To me it’s like leaving a restaurant and seeing a homeless person asking for change, you just put the change in the cup, you don’t think while you’re eating at a restaurant that you’re going to find a homeless person afterwards to give change to, it’s one of those things that when the opportunity presents itself you do something,” says the Lion running back.
With so many stories in the media of professional athletes being selfish or greedy there is no doubt that Kevin Smith presents a completely different look at what the effects of such an opportunity can have on someone. Smith, and so many other NFL players, realize just how lucky they are and remember what it was like to be a youngster looking up to these giant-like figures. His kindness and whole hearted efforts to give back give youth a look at what things money and fame can do besides buy nice homes and cars.
As his career continues Smith hopes to continuously make large impacts with smiles, laughter and a chance for all youth to enjoy life.
“I want to do things like setting up basketball tournaments and just giving people the opportunity to have fun. Positive people hanging around each other, having a good time, seeing the kids run around, giving out free food or shirts. I think it’s important to touch our youth and it starts with the kids, even if it is 5 or 10 kids, anything to guide our youth is so important.”