When you don’t take care of your body well, it reflects to the things that you do. But Sean Smith grew up knowing how to take care of himself because he grew up playing football. During his transition from high school football to college level, he got big headed and started drinking too much and lose focus. He didn’t put effort in his seasons and it showed when he injured his knees. In six months, Sean went through five knee surgeries and even after this he was still out of shape. It wasn’t until he got another corrective surgery that he got back in the field. This also allowed him to mature and look at things positively even when most people would be sulking around. Sean shares his days of playing football and how he turns shitty situations into good vibes.
On the podcast, we have Sean Smith. Sean had a wild ride of ups and downs five years ago, but he always made the best of it, kept his head up, and moved forward spreading good vibes everywhere he went. After five knee surgeries, a battle with post-concussion syndrome and one night out in college that would change the course of his life, he is still going strong. He is living proof that even when life is not going your way, it can actually be setting you up for the best days of your life. Please welcome, one of my best friends, Sean Smith.
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Good Vibes Get You Into The Zone with Sean Smith
We’ve got one of my best friends, Sean Smith, on the podcast. How are you? Big year for you so far. Just proposed?
How was that?
It was a cool experience. It was probably the coolest experience in my life. Top up there, about 300%.
How long did you plan it for and when did you know you were going to do it?
It was a whole thing going on probably since last year this time. We’ve been dating for a while and I knew that if I was going to do my thing and put a ring on the finger that I want her to be proud of, I was like, “The saving up has to start now.”
Those things aren’t free.
That is not cheap. I’m buying insurance on it right now. If one object costs over this amount of money, they can’t do it. It’s this whole process. That’s what we’re dealing with right now. That’s besides the fact. It was a year in the making and I really game-planned it. I was figuring out whether it was going to be Thanksgiving because we got the family all together.
You’ve got to do it. You’ve to make sure everyone’s around.
I knew that’s what she wanted. She wanted her family. Her sister lives in Charleston now so we needed to make sure the whole thing was going to happen when everyone was together. Luckily, we made it happen.
You pulled it off and it was a beautiful thing. You picked the perfect weekend to do it, rolled right into the Poconos weekend and had a blast with that. I’m just pumped for you now because you’ve been through a lot of shit and you came out of it. You had a wild hilarious ride and it all worked out. I’m sure you couldn’t see it at the time, but it worked out even better than you could have ever imagined. When you grew up, football was your thing. You were just pretty naturally gifted at it, but you also busted your ass pretty much harder than most people would. That’s pretty much what you dedicated your upbringing to, right?
100%. I started young like most of us did. We would hockey with you and me and Muka and all of us playing football. I started playing flight football around six years old. I was always a smaller kid. Then it really started to come and all the work started paying off in my high school years. I built into myself. I was getting that size on me because in Pop Warner I was getting bitched out. Mike Bonfig used to just suplex me every practice. I was like, “F this,” but you just keep grinding.
Something happened because you were shier, a little smaller. I don’t know exactly when it happened, but you flicked a switch. I think it was around seventh or eighth grade when you were like, “I’m not taking any shit from anybody anymore.” What happened there?
That was all correlated. I gained my confidence once I started gaining confidence in football because football was what I based everything off. I was a nervous kid. I was this, I was that. I was always semi-athletic. Growing up I could do shit, but I wasn’t that big and whatever. Putting that size on, hitting the weight room in high school, all that shit. That eighth grade year was when I grew six inches. I was 180 pounds. You start having confidence on the field and that translates to off the field. I don’t know exactly but that’s how I feel what happened.
*What was the goal when you entered high school? Was it college? Obviously, everybody thinks you’re going to the NFL, NHL, or anything. What was your goal? Right when you started, “I’m getting good at this. What are we going to do with this?” *
I think it was eighth grade. This was after I got left back, so I went, “I wasn’t getting left back.” I’m in eighth grade at Howell Middle School and it’s coming upon Thanksgiving time.
*We all went out to eat in New York City and we were all eating dinner. You’re like, “I think I’m going to seventh grade.” We were all just like, “What are you talking about?” *
That’s exactly how I felt. My dad was like, “How do you feel about switching to go to a different school?” At this point, I was shy as shit. I had my core group of friends but it was all you guys. There were five or ten, all the kids who I have played football with. It wasn’t a big thing to me. He was like, “What do you think about this?”
*I wish everybody knew your dad’s demeanor too because it was already settled. It was already in the books. *
He was asking me just as. He was putting it out there. I was 100% going as soon as I came back. I basically got redshirted as a seventh grader. That’s really what happened. He redshirted me before I even heard the phrase in my entire life. I was a year younger than Kilian who has an August birthday.
*Kilian was just a massive human being. *
He was born in August of ’89. I was born in September of ’90. I was a year and a month younger than him.
*A year back then is everything. *
The difference between a twelve and a thirteen-year-old can make a huge difference, that one year you’ve grown, especially because Killian was Swedish. He was a Viking. Basically, that’s what happened. I ended up in eighth grade going into Thanksgiving break. I was in eighth grade at Howell Middle School. At the end of that weekend, I was in seventh grade in St. Rose of Lima in Freehold with the biggest bunch of nut jobs, Mike Rossi, Mark Shelton, Frank Nicosia, Alex Taylor. That was a great experience in life. Honestly, besides the fact that it helped me physically and all that shit, that was a hysterical time of my life. It was my first time going to Catholic school dealing with nuns. I set the record for detention in my first year there. I didn’t know what I was doing. You go to detention if you didn’t bring a pencil to class. That was the least of my worries. I had zero attention span so there was no shot of me doing anything.
That year I got back my second time in eighth grade. Pretty much all of you were in high school. You were at RBC playing hockey. Muka is at Colts Neck. All the boys are in Howell. That’s when I was trying to decide where I want to go to school because I could pick Howell, I was looking at RBC and I was looking at Colts Neck. I finally ended up deciding Colts Neck. That eighth grade year, I was like, “If I’m going to play football in high school, I’m going to be on JV at least playing with my boys.” My freshman year I was like, “I’m playing JV and I’m going to play on varsity as a freshman.” That was my first goal I remember making to myself. I was like, “I’m already a year behind but I’m playing with my boys. I’m getting to that next step.”
You over-achieved that a little bit too. Didn’t you get some varsity time as a freshman?
Yeah. It was probably midway to the season. I ended up playing a little varsity. I played a bunch on JV. That was my first real goal with football. I was like, “I’m going to do this.” Especially back then I was like, “If I had this in my head, I’m doing it.” That’s really what it was. I had my dad pushing me crazy. I was working my ass off. It wasn’t like I was just saying this and it was just going to happen. I had to get pushed a lot in the beginning but then I was all about it, “I love this shit.” That was my first thing. I’m a freshman. I was playing all JV, got varsity time, but then the following year I’m like, “If I’m not playing varsity, this is a joke. I’m making this happen 100,000%.”
Which you did and then you just got the ball rolling and just started killing it.
I was working out a ton. I was doing track. I was trying everything out. I was doing a bunch of shit. At the end of the day, all my focus is on football.
Then you started getting looks on your sophomore, junior year?
Yeah. It’s probably in my sophomore year.
Then you got that lifelong goal. That’s what’s pretty crazy about getting a scholarship and playing at that high level because that’s a goal that takes a lifetime and it happens so quick. It happens so quick and you see a lot of kids, that’s their main goal, D1 College, anything. They get it and they play it, and then that’s all their focus is, that’s all they talk about. With you, you’ve got it, you did it, and you moved on and you kept going. It is a lifelong goal. It’s tough to accomplish and not many people do it. It molded your entire childhood to that moment.
It was a lot of hard work from everybody. My dad busts his ass with that. He was helping me out with my films and stuff, just get it out so people will look at it. It was just a crazy experience. People bash on high school and like, “He would never go that pro.” I go back to high school because that was a great time. We’re with all the boys. All the boys were partying together whether you’re at an RBC parties, Colts Neck parties, Howell parties. That was the best shit ever just having all of us together, and then on top of that, I was just in the zone. After I started on varsity, it was pretty much after that I was like, “I’m getting a scholarship to college.” It wasn’t where to CW post where I end up going, but I’m getting a scholarship and I was shooting for the top. That’s where you’ve got to go because if you’re not shooting for the top, what are you doing?
That was another amazing thing growing up in the area we did. It’s like a regional school system so you grow up with everybody, and then everybody starts branching out to the different schools. Once everybody starts to get into the restroom, partying after games and everything, I would not trade where we grew up in the entire world. **It is the most fun. You would see what Kilian, Fiorello, and Rick were doing over there. I would see what you were doing over at Colts Neck. You just meet people and it’s cool because everybody becomes boys after a while; your boys with all my RBC friends. It’s crazy how it works, just good people everywhere. **
The only thing that might have changed was that Howell went to Howell. We would have been a powerhouse. That town’s it wouldn’t have been fair. That would have been a powerhouse like Middletown South was for all those years. We would have had that same shit going on, especially with all the cool kids we had. Colts Neck played with Howell.
That one game, I was there. That was just an unreal game just to watch.
Those were all kids. 70% of the starters on Colts Neck’s team were all Howell kids. Two state playoff teams playing against each other. The majority of the kids are from the same town who grew up playing Pop Warner together. It was cool though.
You get to college. What’s that like transitioning from high school football to high level football at the college level? Was it a wakeup call?
It was definitely a wakeup call. I’m sure the same with you like how you’re playing Pop Warner. Freshman football wasn’t really a jump. Then from freshman to varsity is a whole other level. How we talked about it before, age differences. Around that time, a sixteen-year-old, a fifteen-year-old, and an eighteen-year-old, between a kid and a grown man, that speed was a big difference for me. When I got brought up to varsity, I was like, “These are grown men.” I don’t have any advantages with my speed and size because everyone is big and fast when you’re in varsity for the most part, especially where we were. We have good football around us. From high school to college football, everybody is All-County. Everyone’s all this.
Everybody’s the best from their town.
No matter who you’re talking to, they were all-something especially the kids that are playing and starting. The kids that are on the field and run around with you, those kids are all this, all that, All-County, All-State, whether it was that or whatever it was. That’s a huge difference. College was I had that crazy mentality. I was ready to go train my ass off. I think I was training with Spadola. He was a complete freak show. He ended up in the league. We ran those 110 tests and shit. I just absolutely dominated him. I just turned nineteen.
I get up there and we start running. We had this crazy coach, Coach Gil. All the kids that were dedicated and shit stayed every summer and I train with them. Our test was running sixteen 110s. They were all timed depending on what position we were. I was running back so I had to do it in fourteen seconds. We had a twenty-second break in between. It was hard as shit. I was in such a crazy shape. I came in there, I just trained myself, I keep doing my own shit, and absolutely dominated this. To the point where all the kids were like, “What’s going on?” They’d tap me up, “Good shit.” I’m like, “All right.” Then I was getting weirder looks.
People started noticing you.
They’re just like, “Were you in the army or some shit?” I’m like, “No. Why?” They’re like, “You look like 26. You’re bald and shit. You look old as hell.” It was hysterical. They all thought I didn’t go to college, went to the army for a couple of years and then came out. A lot of kids do that to get their eligibility back.
You crushed it your first season started as a freshman, running kids over full speed not even thinking about it.
The kid that I was playing behind was Tyron Smith who was a senior. He was from Brooklyn. I think he went to Lincoln High School in Brooklyn where real ass dudes come from there. He was all this, all that. There were some times I was getting it and putting it over him and he was heated.
Was he heated at you?
He would be heated. He would come out the field like the typical movie shit. We were boys. When it came on the field, he wouldn’t F around which I completely respect. If I’m a senior and I have some freshman kid coming in, getting my reps my last year, I’d be pissed off too.
What happened? Did you end up starting over at the end of the year?
During that time, we were running more of a 4-3-4. It’s like three linebackers; two middles and one outside linebacker then the base would be a Nickelback.
*They accommodated both of you. *
In the beginning, they weren’t. That’s what they ended up doing towards the end. They started running just a straight four-four with two outside linebackers. I ended up playing a lot on my freshman year.
Was it sophomore year when shit got crazy, absolutely out of control?
Yeah. I blame it on myself a lot.
We had a conversation three sheets to the wind one night in Belmar. You were telling me everything. You were like, “I just did it.” Something happened where you were just like, “I don’t give an F.” Not that you didn’t give an F, but what didn’t you like? Did you get tired of it, burned out?
Yeah. I think it was a combination between a lot of things. It was me hitting that goal because it was like, “Get a scholarship,” and then I was like, “I’m starting as a freshman,” and then started playing all that shit. I think I just got big-headed a little like, “I can do this.”
Was it middle of the season, beginning of the season when this happened?
This is after the freshman season. It’s off-season. Not that I was even big-headed, but I was experiencing the college life. That spring semester, “I’m at class, I’m doing this, I’m at practice all day.” Then I finally got some free time for myself and I was living right next to two kids that were seniors that year so they were diving at football. They were like, “Come to this. Come to that.” I was like, “I’m not turning down a beer. I’m an asshole.” I just ended up drinking too much and losing focus a little bit. It followed into that summer, and it was like, “I already played as a freshman.” I started to punch a couple of games as a freshman. I’m like, “I’m going to do the same shit over,” except I put not even half.
*Was that the focus on your summer? *
Probably. I just thought I was a shit. Not that I was a shit in that way but it was just like, “I’m going to start regardless. These motherfuckers aren’t sitting me. I’m going to start.” I just didn’t put the effort in. I think that translated into the season because I was not in this well shape, not crushing, not beating everyone and everything. It fucked me up. I don’t think it was exactly it. If you don’t prepare your body the right way, you don’t take care of yourself the right way, your muscles are dehydrated, all this shit is going on, and it all ends up having an overall effect of what’s going on.
You watch those 30 for 30 and shit. Did you ever see The Best That Never Was with that guy that went to Oklahoma?
*I remember he was just talking, “I didn’t want to play football. I knew something was off.” He called his agent, “I don’t want to play today.” His agent was like, “You’re a professional football player. You can’t take off.” He was like, “All right.” He played that game and ends up tearing his ACL. Did you have anything going on that day before that game? *
I hurt my left knee in that game. My right knee was killing me the whole day before the whole bus ride.
You think you have a knee torn before the game started?
No, but it was my right knee that was bothering me. I just remembered that, which was the weirdest thing like, “My right knee is killing me.” I could barely sleep and I was stretching all night. I don’t know if maybe it was me overcompensating or some shit, it couldn’t have been because it was a split second injury. When I was thinking back, “What was going on? Did I do this?” My right knee was just killing me. That doesn’t really have anything to do with this but it’s interesting. It was nothing, no serious injuries, but I had a pinch. It felt like it was getting jabbed with some shit. I remember and I was like, “This is weird.”
You played that game and then what happened? Did you remember the exact play?
It was our first game under the lights at Kutztown University in Pennsylvania. My whole family was there. My grandparents, my aunts, uncles, people from our neighborhood like Murthas, Campfields. Muka and Jeremy drove out there that day. I don’t even know if they watched me play one play because I got hurt in the second series. I just remember that game, I was hyped up. This was back when we were making Facebook statuses. I made my Facebook status, “I never want my phone before the game.” I guess I did have some weird superstition things with that. I ended up going back after we warmed up and went for my phone. I heard a song and I was hyped up. It was Amazing by Jeezy. I was like, “Facebook status right now, hyped up.” Probably half hour later, my knee blew up.
I was playing Cover 2. They were running the ball a lot. I think I had three tackles immediately because I was coming up hard from safety. I’m like, “Balling out, making plays under the lights, I’m hyped up, ready to go.” I ran and play action. I’m on the hash twelve yards back. They teach you everything. As a safety, you take two little read steps back just in case some play action is in front of you. I bite on play action immediately, open up. I looked at the number one receiver which is the guy always close to the outside, the widest guy. He is 25 yards ahead of me already in a dead spread. I booked it, turned around, and I’m just going to the pile line, just cut this off, prevent the score. I ended up catching him somehow. I grabbed him so I’m running back, the sideline was on my left and the end zone was in front. I catch this kid. It’s on an angle so I grabbed his right shoulder and I reached around and tried to punch the ball up. Right then, that wrapping around thing, my foot stayed on the ground and the whole shit just hyper-extended and twisted. Immediately, just crazy noise, I heard my bones hit each other.
After the whole fact with the MRI, that’s the biggest pain because I had a bone bruise that was deep black. You could barely see my bone in the MRI. That was all the way halfway my femur. They were like, “That was a lot of your pain.” Everything hit. All I remember was laying there and I was screaming, over and over and over again. I remember looking to the side of the field, we were on their sideline, and there were three little kids on the fence and I was like, “I’m going to stop screaming.” Pretty much that’s all I really remember. I already traumatized myself. I don’t need to traumatize these three little football fans.
*What were the next coming weeks like? *
The knee was so swollen that they were like, “We’re not going to be able to see shit. There’s no point to MRI it.” I did a little bit of rehab. They were like, “The swelling is still not going down.” They basically did a meniscus surgery. They were able to go in. They do that with cameras with all the technology. Two little cuts were made but they still didn’t know if I tore my ACL. They were like, “You definitely tore your meniscus. We might as well just go in, do the whole scope and check everything out.” They did that. My whole shit was just blown up. I tore my ACL, MCL and both my meniscus: the medial and the anterior. That’s when that whole shit started. I ended up having five surgeries within a year and a half, just nonsense.
The one thing I would tell anyone that’s looking to get surgeries in a serious knee injury, do your homework because my doctor that was given to me through my school was a joke. I ended up going to a different doctor because he absolutely mangled my first one. I went to this guy and he’s like, “Who did your ACL surgery? I’ve never seen anyone drill a hole in this part of your leg for an ACL surgery. This makes no sense.” The guy was doing his own thing. I just really would say do your homework with that because that’s something that will affect your whole life. My knee is good and I’m able to do my thing a little bit, but it’s not the same.
*I feel like most people would feel pain and you’re just on another level and you just make it work. Didn’t you return after that? You returned after five ACL surgeries. *
Yeah. It was a scope, a cleaning, then they did my ACL and MCL at the same time, then I returned. That was three surgeries. I try to come back the following year. I was trying to see if I can get back for the season. I was really out of shape. I wasn’t able to really do much. I was just getting cleared. Those 110 tests I was talking about before, I went to run those. I’m so out of shape. I haven’t run in over a year since I had an ACL on my old knee. I ended up fucking myself. I went too hard, too fast, run like a retard.
*You probably felt pain there but you’re like, “We’re going to keep going here.” *
I was like, “This is bothering me but I feel okay and I’m able to make it work.” It was probably four or five practices in when I’m like, “This is not working out.” I go back to the doctor, deal with that, get another surgery, same leg to re-do my ACL. I was either going to have to get a complete reconstruction or try to patch up what I got in there already. That whole junior year, I was out completely.
Did you redshirt?
Yeah. That was my medical redshirt. That year passes and I’m rehabbing, getting my shit together. I come back into my actual senior year and I’m trying to get back. It was almost two years of me being out of commission just from surgeries and all that shit. I finally came back, and the same story. I ran those 110s and I really wasn’t in shape enough to push myself. I pushed myself even though all the doctors tell you not to push yourself. I was just getting tired of it. I was like, “It’s been two years of being held up. I’m just tired. I want to get back to normal.” I ended up hurting myself again.
*I remember one New Year’s. It was probably four months after you tore your knee completely. I was so concussed. It was probably the most comical New Year’s you’ll ever have. You with your leg up, sitting on the couch, we’re watching the Ball Drop. I have no idea where I am. If anybody asked me a question back then, I was just trying to feel like what I would say. I was freaking out 24/7. *
You were in bad shape at that time. I remember looking at you on the couch and being like, “He’s not okay right now.”
*I was a ghost for two years. *
That was super scary because it was well-deserved but you weren’t yourself.
*It was like I was living a movie and I was just watching my life happen. I was just watching people come up to me and talk and I would just have no idea what to say to anybody. You experienced that. *
That was in between. That was my senior year. That’s basically right before I came back to play football. I got my concussion. I’m not going to explain exactly how I got concussed but either way, I ended up banging my head and getting a concussion.
You had the ACL surgery, you come back, and you play football.
No. I didn’t even get back yet. I was trying to play Spring Ball I couldn’t play Spring Ball because of the leg. After mid-Spring Ball, I was completely out.
You get five ACL surgeries, think you’re good, go back to play football, play some Spring Ball, and then you got severely concussed. **I was probably concussed at one or two years at this point. I finally met somebody that was going through the same shit as me, and it helped me out tremendously.**
Honestly, going through that whole experience would suck. You had it ten times worse than I did. The only thing that made me feel better was you finally had someone to relate with. We would be talking to each other. Before this happened, you’d be saying shit to me and I was like, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Everybody was really nice but nobody knew what to say to me.
It’s like, “Suck it up. You’ll be good. It’s been two years. You’ll be good.”
I remember you telling me too, “I would rather have ten ACL surgeries than go through this shit.”
That’s just a different type of thing.
You can’t see either.
Either one sucks but you need to protect your brain. I wish I could take back so many of the times being drunk young in high school, punching myself in the face just being an idiot, especially with the CTE and football. I was like, “What was I doing?” You have to cherish that.
*We were both a little crazy a little bit. A lot of good things came out of it. I’m a completely different person before going through that shit. It’s just night and day. I learned so much in those two years because it was just a brutal experience. Life is good now. When you’re having a good day, you take it in because you’re not waking up feeling just like absolute shit, because you’ve seen the opposite end of it. It is a blessing and it sucks when you’re going through it. If you’re lucky enough to come out the other side, it’s a beautiful life. *
That’s the most impressive thing with you, how you were able to turn such a shit situation into something actually positive. You live your day and do every single day. You live your life basically dealing with it and helping other people deal with it.
*I don’t really deal with it anymore. I feel better than I’ve ever felt before the injury. I was thinking about it and I feel solid. *
You’re still in the same field. A lot of the people would be sketched out like, “F the chiropractor,” but you completely sunk yourself into it and made it your lifestyle like it’s a cool thing.
There’s a kid at a high school football with tons of concussions. This kid is just down on his luck every day. He’s a trooper. He comes in, you look at his face and it’s just completely drained. All the life is sucked out of him but he keeps going on. I was like, “I have been there. You are overdue for a miracle. Keep your head up, keep going.” I think people get a little bit out of that because they’ve seen that you’ve been through it and it could help them. Even though they can’t see the light right now, they know somebody’s been through it and it helps.
That was the scariest thing with you when you were dealing with that. There was nobody relating with you for years.
All my friends were absolute psychos. Everybody’s just drinking, having a good time. I got the best friends in the world. I would call my mom, “Mom, I don’t know what’s happening. I have no idea.” She’s like, “Kevin, I love you so much. What do you want me to do?” I’ll be like, “I don’t know.” Nobody was giving me any answers. I was incapable of feeling any emotion. I was just zoned out. I couldn’t feel any emotion towards anybody. It was scary.
I remember that’s exactly how I felt. I think that’s exactly when we first related. I was like, “I literally feel this is fake right now.” A lot of days I was going through the motions and it just felt like a movie. It was fake and I was like, “Where am I?” It was a constant outer-body but a bad one, an awful one. I was seeing myself and it was a constant anxiety.
*We were both lucky where we had people there for us pretty much every day. Remember Juliet? *
*That girl was there for me every day. She was just a sweetheart. I remember walking out of the MRI. I thought I had a brain tumor or something. I was like, “I don’t know what’s going on.” Walking out of the hospital, I was like, “I can’t even see you.” Everything felt fake. It felt like a dream. It was so scary. If anybody is ever going through that post-concussion syndrome, this is the spot. *
We both dealt with those chiropractors.
I’m a huge fan of the whole profession because every chiropractor can tell you a miracle that they had. There is hands down. The more specific you are in dealing with the problem and the brain stem and the concussion, the more miracles are going to occur.
It just makes sense. There’s a kink in your hose that water’s not going to run through it. If your body’s not aligned, you’re not getting the right shit to the right places.
I like to look at it as a plant. A lot of people want to just spray paint the leaves green and call it healthy. This shit does take time. If you water the plant that hasn’t been watered in years, it’s still going to look like shit for two or three or four months, but then the water soaks in, the plant starts growing and it becomes healthy again. You’re not spray painting anything. It’s coming back to life. You were going through that concussion as well. Then your senior year comes.
Basically, I ended up back on the field finally. After two years, I’m finally back at it. It was my fifth year now and I finally earned a starting spot as a middle linebacker. My mobility was shot.
How do you feel at this point?
I was shot but I was hyped too back again. I had that surgery with this guy. I wish I could remember his name because he was a genius. I have no ACL in my left knee now. It was either I was getting another reconstructive surgery, which means I would have been out three years straight, which means I would have come back for a sixth year. This was like do or die. I was not playing football anymore if this surgery didn’t go through. There was a 20% chance of success. He was shaving down my ACL. The main problem with my ACL was I was growing so much scar tissue that it was basically bombarding the ACL. It was too much shit in my knee. The mobility was shot. Everything was shot. Either way, he hooked it up, shaved it out, and I built up all my muscles around my knee to basically just strengthen everything around it so I didn’t need my ACL anymore.
I’m back in the field going through my fifth year starting. I’m feeling good playing, no knee brace, running around, having a day going off. It’s game week. I think it was the first practice of the game week, so it’s Monday. We had a game on Saturday. We were running practice, doing these drills. My coach runs me. We’re doing these back running drills. You have to sidestep, angles and stuff. My coach runs me directing to a bag, I rolled my ankle, high ankle sprain after six weeks of my right leg. I’m like, “This is fate. I’m not getting back in the field.” I finally got my shit back and I beat out two kids that were starting already. They were the starters the year before. I beat them out and I got this ankle sprained. I’m like, “I’m not sitting out for six weeks. There’s no shot.” I ended up having to sit out for the first week. Second week, come back and we’re playing Bentley up in Massachusetts. I’m like, “Fight it. Fight it.” I’m a fighter at practice. I’m like, “Coach, I’m playing regardless. I don’t care.” I gimped my way through practice that week. Game day comes, another night game. There were only two night games I played in college. I go out. I took ten aspirins; definitely don’t do that, that’s not healthy. I think I took a Percocet as well. Don’t do it. It’s bad for you, it’s really unhealthy. I couldn’t feel my ankle. I taped it up a hundred times. I’m good, go out, play in special teams. I’m like, “At least I’m on the field. I’m back.”
*That little feeling of being back on the field is it. *
I’m under the lights, having a day, I had a great game. For me, I was happy with myself. After all the shit, I was brought out again to fight in the field, hyped up, feeling like myself again a little bit. That was actually a Friday night. We drove back after that game. We ended up losing by two. It sucked. If you have a Friday night game, that means that you’ll have all day Saturday to drink. Saturday, we get up. We start drinking pretty much 11:00 or 12:00, drinking all day, long day, doing the college thing. I’m finally able to experience that full day party. You don’t get a bunch of those when you’re an athlete because you have so much shit going on. I had a great day. We ended up going out. This is a nightmare. We drunk all day, started hanging out, we go out to this bar. There were 50 kids from the football team stacked out. Everybody’s there. We all had off so everyone’s there. It was Saturday.
Was this when you beat the wheels off that one kid?
This is just how my career went.
In all fairness to you, before you start this story, that kid was going in on you, right?
Yeah. He’s a dickhead. I go to the bar. This kid is talking shit to a bunch of kids on our team. It was actually the head coach’s son. He was a freshman that year. These bars out by where we were going to school were very lenient. You could show them an ID of a 90-year-old woman and just get in. The kid’s like, “Smithy, this kid keeps fucking with us.” I walked over to him and like, “Stop being a dickhead. There are 60 of us here. Go get a beer or something.” The coach’s son is getting shit-talked to by this kid. I walked up to this kid and I’m like, “Stop. Enough, there are 60 of us. You’re an idiot if you’re going to try to fight one of us because you’ll get killed.” We’re just bickering back and forth and I’m like, “I’m a grownup. I’m fifth year senior and I’m going to make the right decision and leave this bar before I beat the piss of this kid.” I walked out, walked around the corner there’s a little alleyway. I just start hearing some shit, “You pussy.” I’m like, “Here we go.” The kid comes up to me, felt like he’s going to throw hands and shoots on me. I sprawl him, flipped him over, and punched him two times.
You were on top of him at this moment and he’s got no shot?
Yeah. I hit him once or twice. I’m like, “I’m getting out of here.” I left, go back to the place, the kid still was sobbing, get in the cab, go back, and get back to my room. We were still living in the dorms. If you had a scholarship, you had to live in dorms, which is a joke. The one kid, Joe Body, he had this corner room so everyone goes there. I’m like, “I’m not here.” I guarantee there are people hanging out in his room. Probably an hour later, I go down there, knock on the door and the kid’s in that room. The kid gets back up, tries to swing at me. I ducked him. I open hand smacked him right in the face, hit him. The kid drops. He gets back up. I hit him two more times. The kid just dropped flat on the ground out. I’m like, “This is bad.” Everyone’s like, “Run, run, run.” I’m like, “No. This kid came to my school.” I should have probably ran because the cops came and the kid’s all mangled up. They were like, “Are you going to press charges?” They were asking the kid if he wants to press charges. He’s like, “No.” He was so blacked out, didn’t know where he was. He’s saying he’s in Islip, which is 45 minutes away from our school. I’m like, “This kid’s so shot out.” The cop came up to me right before they’re leaving. He’s like, “I know he’s not pressing charges now but once he walks in his house and his parents see him. Be prepared for some shit.”
The following day, I’m hanging out in my room, get a knock on the door from Public Safety, get arrested, and brought down the station. I’m thinking I’m going to be good, I’m thinking my coach is going to have my back because this shit happens. I’m thinking that my coach is going to have my back because this kid started a fight with me. If I was able to explain myself to someone, you should have my side. I don’t care what ended up happen; innocent until proven guilty. They were like, “No violence. You’re off the team.”
Do you think you would have been able to play the next game anyway with your leg?
My ankle was severely injured. It was probably better off for my overall bodily health.
It’s crazy how that shit happens. I don’t think that’s an accident how that kid was at the bar. You could have gone anywhere that night. You could have gone to any room, and then you get there and the kid is there.
There were three bars right there too. I could have picked a different bar.
*I’m not saying everything happens for a reason, but it’s interesting how shit plays out. It really is. *
That’s how it happened and you’ve got to let it rock. You’ve got to let it ride. What are you going to do about it? Shit happens. At the end of the day, I had to go to court for a year. I was let go, no charges, no fines, found fully innocent. It goes to show you can’t harp on shit. You just got to roll with the punches and keep it going.
That’s the one thing you did though. I’ve seen you upset but I’ve never seen you sulked like, “There’s Smithy again sulking.” That will never come out of anybody. It’s like you are already on to the next one before all the bullshit is even done. That’s impressive. Not many people can do that. I think that’s what has landed you in your situation. After all the shit, you have never sulked on it.
In other situations when people are sulking, I’m like, “Who am I to put my shit on you?” You’re already dealing with your shit, so who am I to sulk in front of you? I have no idea what you’re dealing with. You might as well be happy. Not to bring up football game but going out to football, I don’t’ know if anyone likes practicing. I didn’t but I ran out every day to practice, hyped up, screaming and hollering, to fake myself out to be hyped. What are you doing being miserable your whole life? You’re not helping anyone. You’re not helping yourself.
You’re really repelling everybody around. There are people that just talking to them, you literally start backing up when they start putting their shit on.
It’s like that green stink in cartoons. You’re like, “I don’t want to f
uck with this person.”
*That’s legit impressive. Did you always just do that? I’ve seen you upset but never more than a day. *
I really don’t know. I really couldn’t tell you. I think this is how I always was.
*On top of this, you get a little divorced. *
That was the term back in the day.
*That was one of the best things that ever happened to you. *
I was pretty much in a relationship that was going on and off for eight years.
It’s really nobody’s fault. That was the first girl you ever really liked and that’s just the toughest one. You have this vision in your head of how it should go.
It’s a comfortability thing. Whatever’s going on, it was comfortable so you just go back to that. I know pretty much a ton of people. My fiancée now, Peri, she had a boyfriend, same situation, eight years. I think it was literally the same exact thing. We talk about the same thing. With both of us, it’s just what you know. It’s comfortable so it’s easy. It’s like, “I went out for three weeks. I’m ready to go.” When you don’t want to party and do the shit anymore, it’s easy to fall back on that. It’s fucked up to say it out loud because it was like you’re using that person almost.
*Everybody’s done it too. *
It’s what’s comfortable. It’s what’s easy. It’s what you’re used to especially after years and years. For me and Peri, it was high school people. I think hers was even eighth grade or something. I think hers was even longer than me. That’s really what it is. It’s the comfortability thing.
*It sucks too because their families get involved and your family. There are so many people involved in that. *
You’ve known them forever.
*To put very gently, it did not end well. I don’t even remember you sulking that much. You were obviously upset. *
Another situation like, “What are you going to do?” You can sulk or you can go out and start partying with your boys.
*I don’t think it’s an accident that you found Peri either because you’re always just spreading good shit around, good vibes to everybody. Peri is just a straight beam of sunlight. She is just the most bubbly. It’s not fake. It’s genuine like the best person that you could be around. You are like that too. I think it says something. You have known each other your entire lives. *
Our parents went to high school together. Her parents are high school sweethearts. My parents are high school sweethearts. They both went to the same high school.
When did she start coming around?
We went to family parties together until we’re probably eight-ish, and then they stopped. I don’t even remember really, but it was probably ten the latest. Her family was living in Manalapan. We were in Howell. We were not around the same people. You find new people. That’s just how it works. They moved into my neighborhood. I started talking with John a little bit, her brother. Me and John became pretty close, and then me and him got at the Belmar house together. I’m single, so is John. We’re like, “Let’s do this shit.” Peri had a boyfriend at the time. Then she started coming around. If you haven’t met her, you’d want to. You see her and it’s like, “That’s the girl I want to be talking to.”
*She’s a great-looking gal but that’s not the best part about her. *
I have always said it, “You can’t beat it.” I go home and I piss my pants. She makes me laugh harder than anybody ever made. I go home and it’s like I’m at a stand-up show. She’s just going off whether it’s her ripping me apart for something hysterical or her doing her own thing.
*That’s another thing I want to talk to you about. You were just absolutely atrocious at telling stories your entire life. You are the best storyteller I have ever met. Your ability to just own the room, and once you see one person crack a little smile, you feed off that and then you start going. When you took that German kid’s jacket and started doing a German accent, I was wheezing. *
I saw the little crack and I completely run with it.
I really hope Tim Lamirande listens to this podcast. Tim changed your life. Tim was/is and always will be a legend and way ahead of his time.
That whole family is just hysterical. Seventh grade lunch;everyone loves lunch in gym. Lunch was the worst part of my day. I would just sit there and once I started talking, Tim Lamirande would shot me down so hard, I didn’t even know what to do with myself. I’d be like crickets.
In all fairness, it’s not like he was being a dick. You were stuttering. Tim just molded you.
That’s what came with it. That’s what I’m saying. It was that whole lack of confidence when I was young, the nervousness and lack of confidence. Timmy took full advantage of my lack of confidence. I was beginning to talk and I’d be in my own head, and Tim would be like the whole Billy Madison shit. I was traumatized from telling stories at lunch. I guess it slowly got better because I was like, “If I want to talk out loud, I need to be better.”
Another unreal thing that probably makes your life a lot easier, it’s because you do give good vibes to everybody. You have a connection for almost everything. When I say connection, you know everyone that does everything. That just makes your life so much better. I think that’s what mostly life is really all about.
The whole negativity thing, if you’re going to be walking around putting out negative vibes, people don’t want to be around you. We’re getting older now, I’m 27, and we have our core group of friends that will be forever. You‘ve got be a human being and take in the positive energy. That’s part of it. Not reaching out and being negative, I feel like that’s never something I ever thought about. It just came naturally because I want to be nice to you so you’re nice to me.
I honestly think it might come from, Janice and Sean, your parents.
My dad can talk to anyone. My mom is the same thing.
First of all, I have two things to say about your parents. Your dad only needed to say this one time to me, “Anything you ever need, you come see me and we’ll take care of it.” He’s one of the few people in this world that actually meant it and backs it up every time. He didn’t have to. Your house is like a second home. Your mom is, to put it in the best word possible, an angel. She’s just always smiling and giving off that good vibe. Your house has just been a second home to so many people. Everybody can definitely vouch for that.
My dad’s like an encyclopedia. It’s unbelievable. He knows everything, and that’s just from him grinding, being a business owner, making himself who he is. He’s a self-made dude and he busts his ass for it. He knows a ton of shit. He really does. Whether it’s stories I hear about him from people in my direct family, cousins and all the shit. My whole life and his whole life, he’s just been constantly looking after other people, trying to help, doing his best, doing whatever he could to help you out. His skin is getting redder by the day, but the guy means well at all times. He wants what’s best for you no matter what. No matter what situation, he’s trying to help you get better and be better.
*Tommy’s got the whole world in front of him. *
That kid’s an absolute legend.
Sean’s little brother is an absolute legend at age seventeen.
Seventeen years old, barely has any pubes. The kid’s like 6’2″, 275, absolute monster. You were talking about loyalty earlier. Carrie’s the most loyal person you can have on your side.
I don’t even have words for Carrie. Carrie is an absolute angel too.
The whole family is just an unbelievable time. Living in my household has been unbelievable the whole step of the way. It comes from being Irish, my extended family. Everyone’s on the same page. Everyone wants to show love.
*That’s what you guys do. It’s not even like you talk about it, you feel it. *
Walking to my house, I feel it. It’s a nice thing.
*Thanks for coming on. *
This is awesome. How you and Muka were talking about that Chris Stapleton podcast. That guy is the man. I love the whole Joe Rogan thing. I love all that. I love all the people he brings on. It’s such a diverse thing. The one thing that Chris Stapleton said that stuck out with me was when he said each person he’s met that’s successful, whether it was in singing, whether it was producing, in every stage of his life, they have that focus. That’s what I was thinking with you. I’m so proud of you. Everything you do, you dedicate yourself fully into. It’s just an awesome thing to see where you came from and what’s going on now. You have that focus and I’m so proud of you. It’s awesome.
This is just beginning. We’re going. We’re just getting started. I wish people could see this set-up. We’re touching knees, crouched together, just having a day with one microphone. We got a couple of microphones on the way. We’re going to set up a little studio. We’re going to get this going. We’re going to start cranking out episodes. If you want to know what this guy next to me is all about, what’s the Instagram handle?
If you enjoyed the show, subscribe to the iTunes channel, share it, and keep tuning in. I appreciate it.
Great time, boys.
*Good talk. See you out there. *
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