CSU men’s basketball lost the face of their franchise in May as forward Greg Smith accepted his diploma on the very court he built his name on.
Although Smith’s NCAA hoops career is over, his professional basketball career is just starting. Since graduation, Smith has worked out for professional teams like the Denver Nuggets, and has even drawn interest from international teams.
But, until his day comes to sign a contract, Smith is spending his time living in the city he now calls home — Fort Collins. Now that the season is over and his diploma is on display, Smith enjoys spending his time serving the community that supported him for the last four years.
“(Fort Collins) did so much for (the team) and put so much effort into us, it is important to me to give back to them,” Smith said.
Smith found an opportunity to serve Fort Collins by volunteering at the Fort Collins Rescue Mission, a local non-profit food bank.
“The rescue mission receives no money from the government,” said kitchen supervisor Kelley Ballantyne. “This place is run completely off donors and volunteers. The volunteers give a friendly face and really help us get things done.”
Smith could be found cleaning tables, cooking, serving and greeting every person as he prepared their salads. Some guests even took the chance to ask Smith about his future in basketball.
“Our guests are really happy to have (Smith). I can tell they are glad to see people like him who are doing their best to provide them two good meals a day,” Ballantyne said.
Smith built himself as one of the faces of the team early. By his sophomore year at CSU, his face and jersey number could be found on billboards and bus stop advertisements not only in Fort Collins, but across the state. Smith claims that his efforts on the court were fueled by Ram fans.
“Every time (the team) steps out into the community (fans) recognize us and (tell us) they are pulling for us. So when I stepped on the court I wanted to play hard and make them proud. They deserved that effort,” Smith said.
Smith helped lead the Rams to the National Invitational Tournament his sophomore season. The Rams followed that with consecutive March Madness appearances, and a home winning streak that will be tough to break.
As a Nebraska native, Greg was the first of two Smith brothers to attend CSU, followed by Dwight Smith. Now that both have spent their collegiate careers in Fort Collins, Greg believes he found a new place he loves to call home.
“This city has been great to me. This city is all I could have asked for (while) becoming a man.”
Content producer Dillon Thomas can be reached at email@example.com.