“He’s been a fighter from day one,” Torrey Smith’s mother, Monica Jenkins, told Washington Post staff writer Eric Prisbell, in his feature article chronicling Smith’s upbringing. It was an upbringing that forced him to mature beyond his years.
Torrey Smith is a survivor, and survivor to survivor, there is no way I can imagine the pain and anguish he is fighting.
Much like Smith, my younger brother and I survived poverty, homelessness and violence. Unlike Smith, I still have the person that understands my struggle.
The eldest son of a struggling single mother is a rock for a family. He must be strong and still in the face of adversity and panic. When times are at their most trying, the big brother is expected to step up, to take on more responsibility than is already expected in his exhaustive, expansive role.
Son. Brother. Father. Rock. Smith understands a life consumed with responsibilities that intertwined each one.
In the infant hours of Sunday morning, Torrey Smith was burdened with news that no older brother wants to carry. His 19-year-old brother, Tevin Chris Jones, was gone—robbed of his life in a motorcycle accident in Westmoreland County, Md.
This is what I am incapable of relating to or understanding. Torrey Smith lost a brother, confidant and best friend.
When Smith left the Raven’s hotel at 1 a.m. after receiving the tragic news, there was obvious uncertainty as to whether Smith would take the field. The Baltimore Ravens left the decision completely up to the second-year wide receiver out of Maryland.
We've all heard and seen players speak of the field as a sanctuary. One can only imagine if Torrey Smith was thinking and feeling something similar.
But less than 24 hours after losing the brother that he helped raise, Smith was out on the M&T Stadium turf. He was visibly shaken on the sidelines, wiping away tears and receiving embraces from teammates. With the world watching, Smith carried his burden between the painted lines.
Between the painted lines, Smith did what Smith does, both in football and in life.
On the field, he was a fast, playmaking receiver. The same one Ravens knew he could be when they drafted him with the 58th overall pick in the second round of the 2011 draft.
Smith got his hands on six receptions and after each one, he pointed to the sky in silent recognition of his brother.
Those six catches amassed 127 yards and two touchdowns. There is no doubt that he was vital to the Baltimore victory. He gave everything he had for the betterment of his team.
He was also the same Torrey that balled up his fists in the face of adversity and refused to quit, despite the pain. He showed the world, though it’s not as if he had anything to prove, that he was still a fighter.
That his past had done nothing but force him to grow into the strong, mature man that he is today. There is no doubt that he was vital, at a very young age, to the development of his family, including his late brother, Tevin. Torrey gave everything he had for the betterment of his family.
Torrey Smith has definitely “been a fighter since day one.” Aside from his tough upbringing, take the fact that the 6’0”, 205-pound receiver was born three months premature with meningitis that forced Smith to live in the hospital for the first 10 weeks of his life.
Torrey Smith is a survivor. Torrey Smith understands, and has understood his entire life, that when the depths of despair are deepest, the strong do not fold. They grow. They evolve. They learn to see the world through a different lens.
In the most trying times, fighters fight. I fully expect Torrey Smith to do nothing less than he has done with every other obstacle in his life.
Expect Smith to translate the pain, mourning and grief into a monster season for Baltimore. Last year, Smith accounted for 50 reception, 841 yards and seven touchdowns.
Those numbers could be more in the range of 75 receptions, 1,300 yards and 10 touchdowns.
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