Growing up in the 90s, we would often wear our favorite starter jackets to all our favorite outdoor sporting events. Super Bowl Sunday was the best! My father would often steal the kitchen from my mother and throwdown with his favorite gumbo, and chips and dips. This is the amazing story of Lovie Smith.
Lovie Smith was born on May 8, 1958. Smith grew up in a big family with four other siblings in Big Sandy, Texas, which is a small town in the eastern part of the state. Smith attended a segregated elementary school for the first few years. Smith’s father, Thurman, was a hospital laundry supervisor with a severe drinking problem but that did not tarnish their relationship. Smith’s mother, Mae, worked as a hospital cook and then gravitated to a factory worker position. Despite his family hardships, Smith’s parents often spoke highly of their son and were often very supportive of his aspirations.
In high school, Smith played football for the Big Sandy Wildcats, which ended up becoming the Texas state championships with a three-season streak! After graduating in 1976, he went on to the University of Tulsa on a football scholarship, where he was twice named All-American for his talents as a linebacker and safety. Unfortunately, Smith did not make it to the NFL draft, however, he returned to his alma mater Big Sandy to take up a coaching position with the Wildcats. After a year he moved on to coach a private high school football team back in Tulsa, and in 1983 he was hired by the University of Tulsa, as its head coach. Smith later moved to the University of Wisconsin at Madison for a year before tagging along with Arizona State University as their head coach. In 1996, Smith’s big break happened when he became the new linebacker coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers; Smith helped the Buccaneers improve their numbers during his five years streak with the team but was lured away in 2001 by the St. Louis Rams to become their new defensive coordinator.
Smith later went back to his Texas roots where he coached the Houston Texans team for one season but due to some unknown circumstances, they parted ways. Smith is currently married to MarryAnne, and together they have three amazing sons. Smith is definitely standing on some giant shoulders of black NFL coaches; now Smith can carve a new avenue for other great black coaches to follow.