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The NFL PE Blog - Prep, Life, Next.

Hooping For Charity

What’s going on y’all? I decided to get back at it with my blog. Before I go any further, I would like to say thank y’all for your prayers over the last few weeks. My wife and I really appreciate it. I didn’t think writing a simple blog would help us, but reading comments and emails from other folks who have been in our position was like therapy. I literally received text messages from people that I know who went through the same thing, which I had no clue about because people don’t talk about these types of issues. It is a sensitive subject; I get it. Having the ability to read other family’s testimonies was a blessing to us. Thank you again!

I’m actually writing this while on the airplane heading back to Baltimore. We just wrapped up another MBA session of school at The University of Miami. I swear I can’t wait until this is over LOL. Next big thing for us is planning this charity basketball game, which is coming up on April 2 in Baltimore. A lot of you all may have been to the games in the past.

It all started with me wanting to bring folks back to where I’m from in Colonial Beach, Virginia (but went to school in Fredericksburg at Stafford High). I wanted to do a fun event for families to attend and my high school was the perfect place because it had a big gym and good location. The first game we put on was a "Pros vs Local Legends" theme. The next few years we did a "Redskins/Ravens" theme (shoutout to Anthony Armstrong), and it was a great time. The only problem we had was that the game would sell out so fast because folks from all over would come. I was disappointed that many people were left out, so we decided to move the game to UMD because it could hold a bigger crowd. The game at UMD was awesome. We joined forces with Ryan Kerrigan and were able to benefit both of our foundations. The following year we decided not to have the game due to a lot of uncertainty with my future, working on my MBA, and dealing with a mobile baby. It was a lot of adjusting and moving, so I didn’t want to rush the game and do it the wrong way.

Now we are back! Each year we try to make the game better than the last. This time we will be doing it at the Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore. The game itself has always been a great event for the family It’s pretty fun to watch some football players who think they should be in the NBA play basketball...lots of dunks and plenty of bad shots LOL! We do giveaways and have a pretty cool halftime show. We also announce scholarship recipients during halftime (if you have or know a college senior who has been admitted to a four-year university, visit torreysmith.org to apply for our scholarship).

It means a lot to me when the players volunteer their time to benefit my non-profit, and it means even more to me that the fans come out because it’s another opportunity to interact with them and help our community at the same time. It is our largest fund/fun raising event. This year the support has been amazing considering I don’t even play in Baltimore anymore. I’ve learned over the past year that a lot of people/businesses’ loyalties changes when you switch jerseys. I’m thankful for the people who are still with us and support our philanthropic endeavors in Baltimore, and we have so much planned that you will be proud of.

The love that we have received from fans from all over has been awesome. I’ve received messages from many 49er fans who are coming to the game and some who just purchased tickets to give away. That’s love! I can’t wait to see some familiar faces and meet some new folks as well on April 2nd. It is an amazing feeling to look around an arena with a couple thousand fans, knowing that they are all there supporting OUR community. It’s bigger than the game. I can’t wait to see y’all there. If you have been before, leave a comment and let me know what you thought about it. Stay tuned for some fun giveaways leading up to the game!

For more info, head to torreysmith.org or royalfarmsarena.com. If you are out of town and would like to donate a ticket for a youth group, please go to torreysmith.org and click the link at the top.

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Prayers Up

What’s going on y’all? It’s been a while since I’ve posted a blog, but better late than never. I felt it was the perfect time for two reasons. 1. I just finished my “hurmwerk” (TJ’s voice) 2. There's a lot going on. As you guys all know based on my social media, my beautiful wife is pregnant with baby boy number 2! We are thankful for that. What you don’t know is that this last week has been stressful! It made me want to write about our experience and the strength of my queen.

Before we left California to head back east, Chanel had another doctor’s appointment. As any woman or man that’s been around pregnancy knows, you have to take a million tests. Everything seemed normal except the baby being a little bit smaller than he should be...but no red flags. A few days later we are back at our house in Baltimore when Chanel received a phone call from her doctor. I wasn’t really worried until I saw her facial expression and body language change. So I walked over to hear what she was talking about and I heard “1 in 25 chance of Trisomy." I just assumed she was talking about Down Syndrome and my response was, “Ok, cool." I was wrong. She was talking about Trisomy 18. I wasn’t familiar with it, so I began to Google it while she was explaining what it was all about. My heart dropped and my wife was in tears. I still had no worries because even though it’s high risk, I still viewed it as a 24-1 chance that he is fine.

The next day we were at the doctor’s office getting more tests done. We had the opportunity to get a new ultrasound and baby boy was moving and responding well to everything. I was excited. Then the doctor came back in and said a couple of things were abnormal and further testing needed to be done. After seeing what he saw, the odds increased to a 1-10 chance that our baby has Trisomy 18. The results wouldn’t be ready for another four days! For the first time I was actually nervous.

The first thing you do as a concerned parent is Google everything. I later found out that it makes things worse. You start to think you are a doctor, and it increases your anxiety and level of uncertainty with each click. I told my wife to stop looking up things. But any person who knows my wife on a personal level knows that she is a nervous wreck when it comes to stressful situations. She worries about EVERYTHING! She was struggling handling it all at first, but later on it all changed. I noticed this strength about her that I had only seen one time before; the same strength she displayed throughout TJ’s birth process. She proved that she could handle anything. Suddenly we were able to talk about what we would do with this situation knowing that her life, as well as the baby's, could be at risk. It was easily the hardest conversation I’ve ever been a part of. What do you do? Do you go forward knowing the outcome will be a miscarriage or death shortly after birth all while putting your life in danger? Or do you terminate the pregnancy? Anyone who knows me knows how I feel about abortions. I think that it should only happen in extreme situations...not because a couple was negligent in practicing safe sex.

Being in this situation has changed the way I view everything about it. I realized I have no right to suggest to her what she should do. I can talk about the pros and cons of each, or maybe even make suggestions, but I couldn’t pressure her one way or the other. When I realized that, it hurt me to the core. I feared that I could lose both of them. I also didn’t know how she could handle carrying a baby for months knowing what the ultimate outcome would be. Being selfish in that way made me think the only thing we could do is terminate the pregnancy. She still wasn’t sure and I would respect her decision either way.

Thankfully, we don’t have to make that decision because the results came back that he does not have Trisomy 18. It was the best phone call I/we have ever received. Although we could be happy for that moment, we know that he isn’t in the clear. There could be more issues. We are excited to know that our child has a shot at life and nothing else even matters. My wife is fearless waiting for the final test results. I never knew my admiration for her could grow any more than it did the day she gave birth to Torrey. My queen is the ____! She has been working hard trying to manage our charity basketball game, foundation, teaching little Torrey and working on her Master's degree. She is special!

We have been talking about what else it could be and have been preparing for whatever results lie ahead. I’m not worried about it a single bit! I always believed that it takes special parents to provide and show love to a kid with special needs. I’ve been around kids with “disabilities” my whole life and understand how special they really are. I can imagine TJ being the best big brother and taking up for his younger brother no matter what his challenges may be. I will teach Torrey that every person is unique just like him. I’m looking forward to grooming both of my young men.

Truth be told, we have no clue what’s going on with our child. It could be absolutely nothing. I do know that we are ready for whatever may come and my wife is leading the way. The prayer warriors have been working for us and we appreciate it. God wouldn’t put us in a situation that we couldn’t handle. We have been drawing strength from him and those around us. Now we are praying that our little fighter continues to grow and we can meet him. I’m praying for life, not for his health. A disability doesn’t make you unhealthy; it just means you may have different challenges. We all have challenges, and we are ready for ours that will soon come. Prayers Up for Kameron!

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Beyond The Field

These days, I think it’s easy for fans to get caught up in fantasy football and think of us players as merely stats, sometimes forgetting that we are human. But we are real people…real people with dreams and aspirations. We are more than football players. So I wanted to write this blog about something unrelated to football that’s important to me so I could give readers a glimpse into who I am and what I aspire to be off the field. This topic is especially close to my heart these days since I just had an amazing experience giving back in Flint, thanks in large part to my passion off the field.

Football is a huge part of my life, of course, but I am also a dedicated entrepreneur. Our company, ShowerPill, was born about five years ago when I was playing in Seattle. It started from an idea that two of my friends and former Cal teammates Wendell Hunter and Wale Forrester and I had because we saw a need. Hold up, let me tell you what ShowerPill is first. Short version: it’s a disposable wipe that works like a washcloth to clean your body and kill 99.99 percent of all germs instantly. I’ll tell you more about it in a sec, but let me get back to where it all started.

During college, when we had VERY long days of workouts (with classes and studying in-between), our trainers gave us all kinds of support for our bodies. If we needed hydration, we’d have Gatorade. If we needed a snack, it would be a Clif Bar or a PowerBar. If we needed protein, they’d give us Muscle Milk. There’s a supplement for everything, but nothing for cleanliness. Of course we showered as much as possible, but nobody is taking five showers in one day. And with the amount of stuff we were doing, sometimes it felt like we needed 10 showers! We’d wake up early to work out, run and lift…and then go off to class and sometimes head to the training room for rehab after that. So if you didn’t have the time to shower, you’re left with a long period of time accumulating sweat and bacteria. That’s just not healthy. Not to mention, if you’re walking on campus, and you want to interact with a nice girl, you don’t want to smell like a bag of trash! One of my partners almost died in college from a bacterial infection that could have been prevented. Throughout the NFL, you hear about outbreaks of things like ringworm and staph infections all the time. Cleveland had it a while back. I remember Tampa had an outbreak. And it pops up everywhere throughout colleges.

We knew there was a need to prevent this, and we wanted to create something that would allow us to stay fresh, clean and healthy. Our answer to this problem was ShowerPill, the “supplement” you can “take” to prevent the health issues that can show up as a result of sweat and heavy activity. The name “shower pill” has always been around in football. Even back in the day, in the locker room after a long day of workouts, guys would say they wish they could take a magic “shower pill” and instantly get clean. It was an inside joke in the locker room. That’s where it started.

So we began putting the wheels in motion. We put our own money in and officially started the business about five years ago. It was a lot of work, especially for my two partners who did (and still do) a lot of the heavy lifting, particularly when it came to research, manufacturing, all the way down to the design of the box. When we first produced the product, we gave a whole bunch of wipes away. I remember after practice in Seattle, I would go out to local stores like a salesman. It wasn’t Justin Forsett, the football player. It was Justin Forsett, the business owner trying to get his product picked up in stores. We went all over the league sharing these with NFL players.

Just to be clear: these are not deodorant wipes. It’s not like how after sweating in middle school gym class, you’d spray some deodorant all over and go straight to math class. This actually kills germs and can prevent infection. It’s perfect for athletes who don’t have time to take multiple showers in one day. It’s been useful for people who are post-surgery and aren’t able to get certain areas wet in the shower. It’s also been useful for those in the military, who are out serving and don’t always have access to a shower. Soccer moms love to wipe down their kids before they get in the car after practice to make sure they aren’t tracking the germs from the field into their car and home. It’s great if you’re camping. The CrossFit community has also been huge for us, especially for those who work out during lunch and don’t have a place or time to take a shower before returning to work. And some people just like to feel fresh all day! It’s not meant to be a replacement for a shower, just a useful tool if you don’t have time or a place to shower at that moment.

I’m proud to say that ShowerPill is sold at a number of boutique vitamin shops throughout the country, as well as through our web site https://showerpill.com/. We are the top body wipe on Amazon, and we are used at many college sports teams (Cal, Baylor, SMU, Houston, to name a few). We’ve done some work with the Bills, Jaguars and Seahawks. I haven’t placed it in the big team bucket in the Ravens locker room yet, but guys know about it. Guys come to my locker and grab wipes all the time, but I haven’t done a deal with the Ravens.

Today, my role is really focused on the social media and marketing work for the company. I still go out and introduce the product to different gyms and athletes, but the brunt of the work falls on the other guys. This summer, I’ll be training in Berkeley, where the other guys live, so I look forward to getting a lot of work done with them.

Most recently, with the support of my NFL brothers, we were able to donate $100,000 worth of wipes and water to schools and senior homes in Flint. Torrey Smith and I went out there a couple weeks ago to help with distribution and talk to the people in the community affected by this crisis. It was an incredible experience, and I’m so blessed to be in a position where I’m not only pursuing my passion as an entrepreneur, but that it’s also allowing me to make a real difference.

This business venture has also been a great learning experience. It’s been helpful learning how to communicate with people. I remember going to Norfolk, Virginia and speaking to several military branches at a conference. I was able to present and pitch our product. You only have so much time with people, and you never know who you are going to run into, so you have to make sure every word counts. The ability to do that will help me in other ventures down the road as well.

I’m glad to say that the business, which is growing, has been successful so far. We’ve learned a lot throughout the process and definitely had some challenges to overcome, especially during the first couple years. One major lesson and aspect has been making sure we are as efficient as possible. We put our own money up, so there is a limited supply and you have to be smart with it. We don’t really have a marketing budget, so we do things like giveaways and ask bloggers to review the product. We also learned that this business is all about partnerships and our goal is to partner with the major brands in our market to provide great products to the athletic/active consumer. Another one of our priorities is to serve the next generation. Of course we’d love to have a huge company, but our emphasis is about serving others…and that’s what I love about it.

My dream is to create a business that allows me to not only provide consumers with a quality product, but to also be able to create jobs and teach others. As a pro athlete (and the same goes for entertainers), you get all sorts of people pulling at you and wanting something. I want to be in a position where I can teach them how to fish as opposed to giving them fish, as they say. That’s the kind of mentality that I’ve had. And so far, I think I’m on the right path.

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