What’s going on, y’all? It’s been a few weeks since I’ve been on here and a lot has happened. The charity game was awesome, Chanel and Baby Kameron are doing well, and we started back training with the team! I can’t tell you enough how thankful I am for everything that’s happening around me. It’s surreal in a lot of ways. I’m glad to be back in the Bay with the fellas. My family is back East, so I’m out here extremely bored when I leave the facility lol. I’ve been reading more and taking extra care of my body to make use of the time. It has been rewarding.
With some of my extra time I’ve been more active on social media, following the presidential debates, and staying up to date on our current events…which actually inspired me to write this post. It seems like when I wake up every morning I read a headline about another senseless act of violence. While no individual situation is the same, most could be avoided. It may sound cliché, but I often look myself in the mirror and wonder what else I can do to help the problem. My non-profit is reaching kids, but what else can I do? I ask myself and talk to my wife about this all the time.
A few months back director Lee Morton told me about this film project he had been creating. He described it by saying, “Invictus 344 is a story that aspires to shed light on what is otherwise overshadowed...those in Charm City with heart and hustle. It's a story of a Baltimore teen, pushing through the noise of the inner-city environment through the motivation of basketball and inspiration of family. We created Invictus 344 to elevate and bring hope to Baltimore.”
I had no clue this short video could be so impactful. It felt real. I’ve heard a lot of the same words spoken by the young boy in the video myself growing up. And after spending a few years in the Baltimore area, visiting schools, and talking to students throughout the city, I know that too many kids are living this short film daily. Too many young men and women are trying to “make it out,” a lot of times with little support and limited resources.
The video is a simple, yet powerful, three-minute movie to inspire and bring awareness to this epidemic. A video alone won’t change what is going on, though. It will take a collective effort from everyone to change what is going on in the city.
There are so many great organizations out there trying to make a difference. So many people rallying against violence so that the kids in the city have a chance. There are people in the field, at schools, and in the community, who are acting on, not just talking about, bringing change to the city. The 300 Men March organization is in the trenches fighting against gun violence and mentoring young men. The Living Classrooms Foundation is all over the city providing opportunities for children and adults who are otherwise overlooked.
I admire everyone who is trying to make a difference in these neighborhoods. Keep pressing on. It is obvious that more needs to be done. How do you think WE can fix this issue? What are you doing to help? Please check out the video below and leave a comment letting me know what you think.
What’s going on y’all? I decided to get back at it with my blog. Before I go any further, I would like to say thank y’all for your prayers over the last few weeks. My wife and I really appreciate it. I didn’t think writing a simple blog would help us, but reading comments and emails from other folks who have been in our position was like therapy. I literally received text messages from people that I know who went through the same thing, which I had no clue about because people don’t talk about these types of issues. It is a sensitive subject; I get it. Having the ability to read other family’s testimonies was a blessing to us. Thank you again!
I’m actually writing this while on the airplane heading back to Baltimore. We just wrapped up another MBA session of school at The University of Miami. I swear I can’t wait until this is over LOL. Next big thing for us is planning this charity basketball game, which is coming up on April 2 in Baltimore. A lot of you all may have been to the games in the past.
It all started with me wanting to bring folks back to where I’m from in Colonial Beach, Virginia (but went to school in Fredericksburg at Stafford High). I wanted to do a fun event for families to attend and my high school was the perfect place because it had a big gym and good location. The first game we put on was a "Pros vs Local Legends" theme. The next few years we did a "Redskins/Ravens" theme (shoutout to Anthony Armstrong), and it was a great time. The only problem we had was that the game would sell out so fast because folks from all over would come. I was disappointed that many people were left out, so we decided to move the game to UMD because it could hold a bigger crowd. The game at UMD was awesome. We joined forces with Ryan Kerrigan and were able to benefit both of our foundations. The following year we decided not to have the game due to a lot of uncertainty with my future, working on my MBA, and dealing with a mobile baby. It was a lot of adjusting and moving, so I didn’t want to rush the game and do it the wrong way.
Now we are back! Each year we try to make the game better than the last. This time we will be doing it at the Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore. The game itself has always been a great event for the family It’s pretty fun to watch some football players who think they should be in the NBA play basketball...lots of dunks and plenty of bad shots LOL! We do giveaways and have a pretty cool halftime show. We also announce scholarship recipients during halftime (if you have or know a college senior who has been admitted to a four-year university, visit torreysmith.org to apply for our scholarship).
It means a lot to me when the players volunteer their time to benefit my non-profit, and it means even more to me that the fans come out because it’s another opportunity to interact with them and help our community at the same time. It is our largest fund/fun raising event. This year the support has been amazing considering I don’t even play in Baltimore anymore. I’ve learned over the past year that a lot of people/businesses’ loyalties changes when you switch jerseys. I’m thankful for the people who are still with us and support our philanthropic endeavors in Baltimore, and we have so much planned that you will be proud of.
The love that we have received from fans from all over has been awesome. I’ve received messages from many 49er fans who are coming to the game and some who just purchased tickets to give away. That’s love! I can’t wait to see some familiar faces and meet some new folks as well on April 2nd. It is an amazing feeling to look around an arena with a couple thousand fans, knowing that they are all there supporting OUR community. It’s bigger than the game. I can’t wait to see y’all there. If you have been before, leave a comment and let me know what you thought about it. Stay tuned for some fun giveaways leading up to the game!
What’s going on y’all? It’s been a while since I’ve posted a blog, but better late than never. I felt it was the perfect time for two reasons. 1. I just finished my “hurmwerk” (TJ’s voice) 2. There's a lot going on. As you guys all know based on my social media, my beautiful wife is pregnant with baby boy number 2! We are thankful for that. What you don’t know is that this last week has been stressful! It made me want to write about our experience and the strength of my queen.
Before we left California to head back east, Chanel had another doctor’s appointment. As any woman or man that’s been around pregnancy knows, you have to take a million tests. Everything seemed normal except the baby being a little bit smaller than he should be...but no red flags. A few days later we are back at our house in Baltimore when Chanel received a phone call from her doctor. I wasn’t really worried until I saw her facial expression and body language change. So I walked over to hear what she was talking about and I heard “1 in 25 chance of Trisomy." I just assumed she was talking about Down Syndrome and my response was, “Ok, cool." I was wrong. She was talking about Trisomy 18. I wasn’t familiar with it, so I began to Google it while she was explaining what it was all about. My heart dropped and my wife was in tears. I still had no worries because even though it’s high risk, I still viewed it as a 24-1 chance that he is fine.
The next day we were at the doctor’s office getting more tests done. We had the opportunity to get a new ultrasound and baby boy was moving and responding well to everything. I was excited. Then the doctor came back in and said a couple of things were abnormal and further testing needed to be done. After seeing what he saw, the odds increased to a 1-10 chance that our baby has Trisomy 18. The results wouldn’t be ready for another four days! For the first time I was actually nervous.
The first thing you do as a concerned parent is Google everything. I later found out that it makes things worse. You start to think you are a doctor, and it increases your anxiety and level of uncertainty with each click. I told my wife to stop looking up things. But any person who knows my wife on a personal level knows that she is a nervous wreck when it comes to stressful situations. She worries about EVERYTHING! She was struggling handling it all at first, but later on it all changed. I noticed this strength about her that I had only seen one time before; the same strength she displayed throughout TJ’s birth process. She proved that she could handle anything. Suddenly we were able to talk about what we would do with this situation knowing that her life, as well as the baby's, could be at risk. It was easily the hardest conversation I’ve ever been a part of. What do you do? Do you go forward knowing the outcome will be a miscarriage or death shortly after birth all while putting your life in danger? Or do you terminate the pregnancy? Anyone who knows me knows how I feel about abortions. I think that it should only happen in extreme situations...not because a couple was negligent in practicing safe sex.
Being in this situation has changed the way I view everything about it. I realized I have no right to suggest to her what she should do. I can talk about the pros and cons of each, or maybe even make suggestions, but I couldn’t pressure her one way or the other. When I realized that, it hurt me to the core. I feared that I could lose both of them. I also didn’t know how she could handle carrying a baby for months knowing what the ultimate outcome would be. Being selfish in that way made me think the only thing we could do is terminate the pregnancy. She still wasn’t sure and I would respect her decision either way.
Thankfully, we don’t have to make that decision because the results came back that he does not have Trisomy 18. It was the best phone call I/we have ever received. Although we could be happy for that moment, we know that he isn’t in the clear. There could be more issues. We are excited to know that our child has a shot at life and nothing else even matters. My wife is fearless waiting for the final test results. I never knew my admiration for her could grow any more than it did the day she gave birth to Torrey. My queen is the ____! She has been working hard trying to manage our charity basketball game, foundation, teaching little Torrey and working on her Master's degree. She is special!
We have been talking about what else it could be and have been preparing for whatever results lie ahead. I’m not worried about it a single bit! I always believed that it takes special parents to provide and show love to a kid with special needs. I’ve been around kids with “disabilities” my whole life and understand how special they really are. I can imagine TJ being the best big brother and taking up for his younger brother no matter what his challenges may be. I will teach Torrey that every person is unique just like him. I’m looking forward to grooming both of my young men.
Truth be told, we have no clue what’s going on with our child. It could be absolutely nothing. I do know that we are ready for whatever may come and my wife is leading the way. The prayer warriors have been working for us and we appreciate it. God wouldn’t put us in a situation that we couldn’t handle. We have been drawing strength from him and those around us. Now we are praying that our little fighter continues to grow and we can meet him. I’m praying for life, not for his health. A disability doesn’t make you unhealthy; it just means you may have different challenges. We all have challenges, and we are ready for ours that will soon come. Prayers Up for Kameron!