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Smith grew up as the only child in a single-parent household. His mother, Florence Young, was a drug counselor. Smith's mother did not make a lot of income, but strived to give him a positive upbringing. She would often take him to work, where the addicts waiting to see his mother would horrify him. Because of his mother, Smith vowed to stay away from narcotics and alcohol.
Smith spent most of his early years in the Athen’s Park neighborhood of south Los Angeles. Although Athen’s Park was relatively better than other underprivileged neighborhoods in the area, it was still plagued with explicit drug activity and gang related violence. As Smith grew up, he witnessed several horrific crimes. Although many of the crimes did not directly affect him, he was disgusted by the fact that no one cared to correct or improve the situation.
High School Years
Smith attended University High School in Los Angeles, California. While enrolled as a student, he distinguished himself as a remarkable athlete, earning a two-sport letterman in both football and track. Smith was also chosen to play for all-star high school football team. In addition to that, he also won several All City honors and set many school records for track.
After graduating from High School, Smith attended Santa Monica College for his secondary education. While playing for the college’s football team, Smith quickly defined himself as remarkable football player again, and easily earned a starting position on the team. During this time, Smith became teammates with Chad Johnson. Furthermore, he would go on to play with the All-Western State Conference South during his sophomore year. While stunning several spectators with amazing performance on the football field, Santa Monica’s Head Coach, Robert Taylor, encouraged Smith not play for riches or fame, but to play so that he might earn a scholarship to a Division-I, where he could receive a better education. Smith took Taylor’s advice to heart, and excelled in his academics, not once missing a day of classes while attending Santa Monica. Taylor helped further mold Smith into the generous and disciplined person he would later become.
After completing two years at Santa Monica College, Smith transferred to the University of Utah, where he quickly established himself as the premier wideout in the Mountain West Conference. While at the University of Utah, Smith set the record for yards per catch, averaging an impressive 20.6, and was chosen to play for the conference’s all-star team twice. After playing an outstanding game at Blue-Gray all-star game the on December 25th, 2000, Smith began to receive attention from various NFL scouts.
The Carolina Panthers chose Smith in the third round (74th Overall) during the 2001 NFL Draft. He spent a majority of his season as a kick and punt returner, leading all rookies in net yardage with a 1,994 yards, and landing in fourth place overall behind Priest Holmes, Marshall Faulk, and Derrick Mason. Smith’s outstanding performance was rewarded with an invite to the Pro Bowl. Together, with Todd Sauerbrun, they were they only players to represent the Carolina in the 2002 Pro Bowl.
During the 2002 NFL season, Smith earned a starting position as a wide receiver and continued to carry out his kickoff and punt return duties. Smith played a critical role for the Panther offense during their incredible 2003 season, and further improved his statistics. During NFC Divisional Playoffs, Smith caught a 69 yard pass, and ran it for a touchdown that; the play would later go on to be voted as the single greatest moment in team history by Panther fans. He went on to catch 4 passes for 80 yards and a touchdown and return a kickoff for 30 yards in the Pathers narrow 32-29 loss to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVIII.
Smith suffered a severe break in his leg during the 2004 NFL season opener against the Green Bay Packers. During the 2005 NFL season, Smith recovered from his injury, and returned to the NFL with a major impact, leading the league with 1,563 receiving yards and tying for receptions (103) and touchdowns (12). He also returned 27 punts for 286 yards, giving him the second highest return average of his career (10.6).
After pulling off a decisive wild card shut-out victory over the New York Giants (with Smith catching 10 passes for 84 yards and a touchdown, while also rushing for 12 yards and another score), and delivering a stunning, but costly upset to the Chicago Bears (Aided by Smith's franchise record 12 receptions for 218 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 26 rushing yards), Smith and the rest of the Carolina Panthers would go on to face the Seattle Seahawks at the NFC Championship. While the Panthers would lose the game, 34-14, and Smith would only gain 33 receiving yards, he would achieve a psychological victory. After an incomplete pass to Smith, he walked off the field holding up four fingers at the camera, indicating that he had been quadruple-covered by the defense. Reviews of the play showed that this was true. Smith had received a virtually unheard-of level of coverage (even top-tier receivers like Terrell Owens, Randy Moss, and Chad Johnson rarely have more than three defenders covering them), with two linebackers, a safety, and a cornerback on him. He also returned a punt 59 yards for a touchdown in the game.
Nevertheless, Smith, along with teammates Jake Delhomme, Julius Peppers, and Mike Wahle were invited to the 2006 Pro Bowl. At the end of the season, Smith shared the NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award with New England Patriots’s linebacker Tedy Bruschi.
After suffering a hamstring injury in training camp before the 2006 season, he returned to the field after missing two weeks of action.  During the fourth week of the preseason, Smith developed an ingrown toenail, which sidelined him for the remainder of the preseason and the first two weeks of the 2006 NFL Season.
Smith has a wife named Angie, and three children named Baylee, Peyton, and Boston. In his spare time, he coaches his son’s soccer team, and plans to become a full-time youth sports coach once he retires.
Outside of sports, Smith founded the Posey Foundation in May of 2004, which is eponymous to Demetrius Posey, one of his deceased teammates. The foundation strives to promote the building of friendships between underprivileged and abused children from the Charlotte community. Also, the foundation offers financial support to various charity organizations, and exemplifies and honors ideal mentors for children. Many of Smith’s teammates and fellow NFL players have volunteered their time and effort to help the organization carry out some of its goals and projects.
In November of 2002, Smith was arrested on an assault charge for attacking teammate, Anthony Bright. Smith eventually turned himself in at Mecklenburg County, where he was photographed, fingerprinted and then released without paying a bond.
Although Smith may not be as acrobatic or swift compared to other elite receivers such as Terrell Owens or Randy Moss, he possess superb footwork and undaunted determination to get under the ball by using methods that usually limited by acrobatic approaches. Smith has mastered his senses of perception and concentration, allowing him to catch passes in the clutch.
While playing, Smith has an indubitable sense of humor, as he enjoys celebrating after catching touchdown passes. It seems Smith’s favorite celebrations involve cradling or treating the football like a baby. While visiting opponents, Smith has been known to mock their mascot. While playing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Smith pretended the football was a sword after he scored a touchdown. Later, while playing the visiting Minnesota Vikings, Smith pretended to use the football as a longboats’s oar. However, this drew much controversy, as Smith also used his gesture to poke fun at the infamous “Sex- Boat” Scandal that was haunting the Vikings at the time.
<stats> Player=Steve Smith Sport=NFL </stats>
(Normalized to 2005 environment)
Season Team Pos G Plays TAY NetPts Pts/Pl PAR PAR/G WARP -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 2001 car wr 15 9.0 119.0 9.92 1.102 7.82 0.52 0.20 2002 car wr 15 26.7 430.0 35.83 1.342 29.61 1.97 0.74 2003 car wr 16 55.3 641.5 53.46 0.967 40.57 2.54 1.01 2004 car wr 1 3.5 29.0 2.42 0.690 1.60 1.60 0.04 2005 car wr 16 55.5 876.5 73.04 1.316 60.11 3.76 1.50 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------