Craig Smith of the Los Angeles ClippersNBA player Craig Smith is the power/forward center for the Los Angeles Clippers and an advocate for education.
By Brian W. Carter, Sentinel Staff Writer
He grew up all over Los Angeles, but one city in particular played a part in raising Craig Smith...Compton. "I moved a little bit to Compton where I stayed with my grandma but then we moved to West L.A.," said Smith. "I still came back [during] summer time to stay with my grandma."
Smith says it was his mother who taught him how to play basketball. He learned about the game at the tender age of four years old. He attended Fairfax High School where basketball got him a scholarship to Boston College. Smith attended Worcester Academy, a preparatory school in Massachusetts for a year before going to college. He would later graduate from Boston college with a degree in sociology.
He would play for Boston College from 2002-2006. Smith would score an impressive 2,349 points playing at Boston College making him second on the career-scoring list. During his senior season, his per-game averages were 17.6 points, 9.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.2 steals, and 0.8 blocked shots. Smith was later selected by the Minnesota Timberwolves for the 2006 NBA Draft.
He averaged 7.4 points and 5.1 rebounds in his rookie year (2006-07) playing with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Smith had a starting role the last five games of the season and averaged 12.0 points and 10.2 rebounds while logging an average 34.4 minutes. His role increased in the 2007-08 seasons after a strong rookie performance and during his Vegas Summer League performance, he averaged 21.8 points and 6.0 rebounds.
About the NBA, Smith said, "It's a wonderful experience, it's the best league in the world. You can play against great competition night-in, night-out. It's been a blast each and every year. I try to get better and better in different aspects. It's just been a wonderful experience so far."
On July 20, 2009, Smith was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers where he's currently giving it all for his team. "The experience is very good, it's been good," said Smith. "It feels good being back home and at the same time having some guys you're familiar with...it's been a great experience. We have a great group of guys within the coaching staff and the whole organization."
Smith has made a goal to give back to the community and give the same opportunity to kids that were in his spot. "I started doing a lot of different events for and with the Clippers and mainly on my own," said Smith. "I do talk to kids at Pan-Pacific park, at christmas parties, if anybody ask me to come and speak to the kids, I'm pretty much down for it, I'm always down for it."
Smith along with numerous celebrities, councilmen, assemblymen and organizations were apart the Sentinel's 12th Annual Back-To-School event. "It was a wonderful experience to see so many kids and happy faces about going back to school. It was wonderful; we got to interact with a lot of people, organizations and non-profit organizations. It was a real good experience."
Smith has been keeping himself busy with other activities he has high hopes to accomplish. "Hopefully one day, my goal is to open up a YMCA of my own to give back to the community just to let them know, there are people out there that have been in the same situation and achieved their goals."
He also had some words of encouragement for youth who are inspiring to be pro basketball players or accomplish their dreams. "If you put your mind to it, you can do anything you want to do. Knowledge is power and if you can believe, you can achieve."