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Sports

Breaking Out of the Shadow

MU Defensive Lineman Opens up on Life with an NBA Brother

smithBeing the younger brother of a professional athlete can be difficult to handle. There are numerous expectations and pressures that stem from an older brother who has reached the pinnacle of his game. A person burdened with these pressures can either use them as a crutch to concede that they will never be as successful as their sibling or use them as inspiration to improve their skill in order to pursue their dream. Dimitrius Smith has decided to use his brother's stardom as incentive to reach his goals.

Many people at Monmouth University know Dimitrius Smith as the 6' 2", 295 pound defensive lineman from Millstone, NJ who saw action in all ten games of his sophomore year compiling 18 tackles to go along with a sack. What people are unaware of is that Dimitrius' older brother is none other than JR Smith, the New York Knicks star shooting guard and last year's NBA sixth man of the year.

Despite having a brother that is a famous athlete, Dimitrius' friendly and humble demeanor would never give that fact away. Dimitrius does not view his older brother as anything other than a role model.

"JR and I talk every day," said Dimitrius. "I try to tell people if you have a sibling like that, he is just famous. Our family bond is great".

Although JR has a busy schedule, according to Dimitrius, JR makes it a point to keep in contact with his younger brother via phone calls. Additionally, JR attends almost every Monmouth Football home game where he supports his brother and the Hawks.

JR attempts to help Dimitrius in sports by revealing the importance of work ethic. "I've helped Dimitrius by showing him what hard work is," said JR. "Work ethic is everything. We work hard cause it's in our blood." JR recognizes the passion that Dimitrius has for football. "Football is Dimitrius' life. I know that when Dimitrius is on the field he always gives it his all," said JR.

JR's success at the highest level of basketball has encouraged Dimitrius to improve his game. He acknowledges that there is some pressure to become a successful athlete.

"It is mostly motivation that comes from the pressure," said Dimitrius. "Since he made it to the NBA; now I feel like I have to make it to the NFL. It pushes me to strive for that goal."

JR is not the only person to reach professional status in the Smith family. Chris Smith, who formerly played for Louisville University, recently signed a contract to play with his brother on the Knicks. Dimitrius' dad, Earl, also played basketball at a high level. Earl played basketball at the University in the 1980's.

Having two older brothers to look up to has significantly helped Dimitrius, but he credits his parents the most for his success in football.

"I credit my family. My Mom and Dad help me with everything. Every little thing you could think of, my parents did for my brothers and I," maintained Dimitrius.

With support from his parents and inspiration from his older brothers, Dimitrius has set lofty goals for himself. He said, "I am going to try to take football as long and as far as it can take me. After that, I would like to be a cop, but my long term goal is to be on the swat team".

Entering his junior year, Dimitrius was in line to again see substantial playing time on the MU defensive line, but an injury derailed his season. During the preseason, Dimitrius tore his meniscus, and it is still unknown whether he will come back this season or take a medical redshirt. The injury to Dimitrius was unfortunate, but with support from his family, he should have the ability to persevere through rehab and get back to what he loves.

Possessing a family that has achieved so much in professional sports has given Dimitrius added stress, but he takes everything in stride. Instead of succumbing to the pressures, Dimitrius uses his brothers' professional experience to improve his overall skill and work ethic. The fact that Dimitrius does not flaunt that he has a famous family reveals the nature of his modest character.

JR and Chris' success in basketball is impressive, but it is apparent that even with their fame, the Smiths are a close knit family that help Dimitrius both in football and more importantly, in life. Dimitrius' short-term goal is rehabbing his knee to the best of his ability and eventually getting back to dominating for the Hawks' defensive line.

PHOTO COURTESY of MU Athletics

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