The Season of Giving

Steve Smith
Steve Smith

It has been said that life often imitates art, but in Steve Smith’s opinion, life often imitates sports. “Sports really give you a window into a person’s life on how they handle things…you can really get a sense of a person, who they are, who they want to become, how hard they want to work when they hit any adversity. Do they shut it down if it gets too tough, do they throw in the towel, do they take the cleats off or do they keep going?” We recently had the opportunity to sit with the hometown favorite of the Carolina Panthers and learn more about his childhood experience and the adversity that he faced growing up. A clear takeaway from the conversation is how evident his play on the field and his approach to the game is directly related to his approach to life and hardship in general.

If you think about it, as one of the smaller wide receivers in the league, the cards are stacked against him every time he steps onto the field. However, he has been able to overcome this by playing with a level of toughness, intensity and passion that is not only well respected throughout his league, but has made him one of the best receivers to play the game over the last decade.

From the beginning, Steve’s life was filled with adversity. He grew up in a home that was plagued by domestic violence and his family often struggled financially. According to Steve, “It was difficult at times, but I think my mom did the best she could. She provided a roof over our heads and really instilled [in me that] if you want to do something you have to put in a lot of effort.”

Steve’s childhood experiences with domestic violence have had a profound effect on his life, inspiring him to form the Steve Smith Family Foundation (SSFF). It is called the Steve Smith Family Foundation because his family is so important to him and he wants to be able to serve and volunteer together as a family. The SSFF is a charitable organization with a “focus to bond and grow partnerships with existing organizations, we find out what the need is and we adjust and we become a helping hand or an extension of that organization,” says Steve. One of the organizations that the SSFF will be partnering with is Safe Alliance whose mission is to provide hope and healing for people and families in crisis stemming from abuse, sexual assault or other traumatic events. SSFF and Safe Alliance have a charity bowling tournament coming up called “Strike Out Domestic Violence” where families that are either transitioning into or out of Safe Alliance will bowl alongside volunteer families. In addition to raising money for the charity, one of the goals is to try to demonstrate how a healthy functioning family operates in an everyday setting, and how everyone treats one another within the family. “We are trying to reprogram and reset them on what they’ve witnessed and seen, so it’s a great opportunity to just give that example.”

Steve Smith is a special and rare individual. Not because of the amazing things that he can do on the football field. Not because he has to endure hardships and adversity throughout his life, because let’s face it, we all have to face adversity to some extent. The thing that makes Steve Smith so special is that he doesn’t make excuses and he pours his heart and soul into everything he does. His idea of sports being a metaphor for life is right on the money in that he demonstrates just as much purpose off the field as he does on it.

For more details about the Steve Smith Family Foundation or for information on the “Strike Out Domestic Violence” event visit www.stevesmithfamilyfdn.org. If you would like to learn more about Safe Alliance  and how you can get involved visit www.safealliance.org.