In a recent interview with Complex’s Pierce Simpson, Smith credited Allen with helping him begin a new chapter of his life with a fresh perspective on his own self-worth.
Smith’s exit from the league came hard and fast. A blunder contributed to a 2018 NBA Finals loss to the Golden State Warriors. The following season, he clashed with the Cleveland Cavaliers, who had begun a rebuild after the exit of LeBron James. While Smith linked up with James for one more postseason run in 2020, it marked the end of his career in the league.
While going out by winning a title might seem like an ideal retirement for some, Smith didn’t feel he was done. He even suggested he was being blackballed by the NBA after being unable to find a new home in the league.
The stats from the last two seasons of his career tell a different tale. The prep-to-pro shooting guard averaged 5.4 points, 1.4 boards and as many assists. He shot 33.7% overall and just 26% from deep. His decline and exile were undeniably fast and swift.
For Smith, who has shifted his focus, there are no tears to be shed — and he gives Allen much of the credit for his pivot into a new chapter of his life.
“Ray is a great motivational speaker. A lot of people don’t know that,” he offered. “Ray impacted my mind, just helping me challenge myself, staying locked-in, and not just using our bodies as our talent.”
The two were on a trip to the Dominican Republic, and Smith noticed the former UConn player was keeping busy taking online courses in his downtime. This inspired the former Laker to do the same.
“I’ve never had a person — especially a quote, unquote, ‘peer,’ whom I never have played on his team — in a day or two change how I think and how I look at my own self-worth.”
“I can tell the true care he had for me. I could tell he really wanted to see me succeed regardless of (if) it was basketball or something else; that’s something I take with me. Nobody has encouraged me like that,” Smith explained.
This revelation ended with the Cavaliers champion enrolling in North Carolina A&T — and joining the Aggies golf team as a student-athlete.
“I was working like I was literally…