UF Alum Ricardo Smith hopes to motivate students through his own experience

Olivia Wile




Findlay Alumni, Ricardo Smith, isn’t lying when he says sports saved his life.

“I don’t know where I would be without sports,” said Smith.

This statement can be backed up by his life story, beginning in inner city Toledo, Ohio. Smith lost his mother to a drug overdose at age 11, coming home from a baseball game to see EMS at his house working on her. He did not find out his mother passed from an overdose until he was 21. He then lost his older brother, who had essentially become his caretaker, during the summer before his sophomore year of college. And finally, when he was a junior in college, he lost his birth father.

In the midst of all this tragedy, however, Smith did what many probably could not– he persevered. When he was a junior in high school, he improved as an athlete and decided he wanted to play college basketball. From there, he went on a recruiting trip to the University of Findlay and was offered a full-ride scholarship.  Smith says he didn’t even consider any other schools. Going to UF didn’t help Smith escape hardship, but it definitely gave him a reason to keep going.

“I couldn’t easily be caught up in Toledo doing the wrong thing,” said Smith.  “I don’t know where I would be in life without sports, from the people I’ve met through sports, to the opportunities I’ve had.”

Now with a college diploma, a job in Marathon Oils corporate office, a new brand and now working towards his masters in communication, Smith wants to spread his message of hope. He says he realized he wanted to tell his story after returning from a mission trip in Haiti.

“The trip changed my perspective on life a lot,” said Smith. “Even though I kind of grew mentally from all the tragedy that happened, that trip changed my life.”

In telling his story, he hopes to both inspire others and evoke change.

“Whatever you’re going through in your life, you can get past it,” said Smith. “You can create your own universe; you control your own energy. I want to use my story to change someone’s life. If it impacts one life, that’s important.”


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