Thank you, Torrey Smith

When we watch sports, we get caught up in rooting for our team, following stats for our favorite players, or cursing out the referees, but we often lose sight of the nobler side of sports.  Torrey Smith’s performance Sunday night, on the most difficult day of his life, reminds us of why we watch sports in the first place.

In the early hours of Sunday morning, Smith received a call informing him that his younger brother Tevin died in a motor cycle accident.  Smith rushed home to be with his family.  Smith was a care taker for all of the younger siblings in his family, helping to raise them like another parent, making the loss even more difficult for him.

His coaches told him to do what he had to do, to be with his family.  And certainly no one would have given it a second thought if he had missed the game.  But Smith told head coach John Harbaugh that he wanted to play, he wanted to be there with his team.  To just show up, under the emotional strain of everything he was going through, took tremendous courage.  But he did much more than that.  He responded with one of the best performances of his career – 127 yards receiving and two touchdowns.

He could be seen on the sidelines struggling with the loss, as tears frequently filled his eyes and as he knelt to say a silent prayer after each of his touchdowns.  He dedicated his performance to his brother, and he played with the strength of two men.  “Obviously, you play with a heavy heart,” Smith said. “You want to play for that person.”

“He had a great heart,” Smith said of his brother. “A lot of people say that all the time when people pass, but he truly was that person. When you see him mad, you’d always laugh because it didn’t look right. To be around him, his big smile and his laugh, which was one of the most annoying laughs ever, I’m definitely going to miss him. It’s a tough loss for us.”

Upon receiving the game ball after the Ravens victory, Smith started crying and told his teammates, “I have my family, and I have you as my family… I couldn’t have done it without you guys.”

His teammates rallied around him and his loss, pulling the team closer together.  “It’s just something about having two families,” safety Ed Reed said, whose brother drowned just prior to a game in January 2011.  “When I went through losing my brother, being around these guys, it really helped me get through. To play and have the game he had, that’s when we all have to sit back and know that God is working.”

“Understand that there is something way bigger than why we’re here today, and that’s what the whole message was,” linebacker Ray Lewis said.

Team sports are about family, about being there for your teammates and about the emotion and struggle of trying to achieve something together, with each man doing their job.  We sometimes forget that in the big business and big show that is NFL football.  Watching the quiet struggle of Torrey Smith, and the way his teammates pulled together, reminded us of what sports is really about.

Thank you, Torrey.  Our prayers are with you and your family.

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