The Houston Texans’ season ended last Sunday but alumnus Wade Smith (2010-13) knows his former team’s future looks bright so long as one valuable asset is carefully guarded.
“The most important thing is to protect quarterback DeShaun Watson,” says Smith in typical offensive lineman fashion. “The kid is a winner.”
Smith, 38 also is a winner. He is a strong childhood literacy advocate and speaks (and reads) to thousands of elementary school students in Houston and his hometown of Dallas each year. The mission of his Wade Smith Foundation, which he founded eight years ago, is to facilitate the growth of today’s youth through literacy and educational programs.
Smith, who retired in 2014 after 12 seasons in the League, even has authored a series of “Smitty’s Bedtime Stories” and his “Reading with the Pros” program has reached more than 60,000 kids in schools.
“When I do a school event,” Smith explains, “we talk to the students about the importance of how reading opens their minds to different things and creates opportunities for them to be successful in life.”
Smith frequently brings NFL alumni and active players to his school events. However, he also brings individuals who work in different non-sports careers such as policemen, businessmen, and television reporters in order to make the speakers as diverse as possible so that every student can see someone on stage to whom they can relate.
Proceeds from Smith’s annual celebrity fundraisers finance scholarships as well as literacy and educational programs.
Smith is beginning to see real progress from the seeds that he sows.
“We’re been providing ‘Smitty’s Scholars’ scholarships for six years,” he says, “and the kids from those early years have already graduated and are becoming productive, awesome people.”
We at NFL Alumni are proud that so many former NFL players such as Wade Smith are serving in their hometowns as “productive, awesome” role models for future generations. Thank You, Wade Smith, for all your community work!