How NBA star J.R. Smith surprised his college golf teammates
How does an NBA star become a collegiate golfer?
Easily enough, if you happen to be J.R. Smith.
The 38-year-old went straight to the NBA after high school in 2004 and ended his professional basketball career with two NBA championship rings: one with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016, and another with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2020.
In 2021, Smith enrolled at North Carolina A&T State University, and, with all four years of his collegiate athletic eligibility remaining, he joined the golf team.
On the latest episode of The Scoop with GOLF’s Claire Rogers, Smith explained how he found himself back in school later in life.
“I’m much more than a basketball player,” Smith said. “I can’t look at myself as just an athlete, but I don’t want other people and my kids to look at me as just an athlete.
“I just decided to go back to school, get my degree, and potentially challenge myself to be better every single day.”
Challenging yourself academically is one thing, but Smith opted to fire on all cylinders and play golf as well, thanks to some encouragement from fellow NBA player Chris Paul, who convinced him to pursue golf instead of football.
Smith said he fit right in with his teammates, even fulfilling freshman duties like buying Gatorades and delivering practice balls.
“I feel like they were way more surprised at how humble I was, opposed to coming in as somebody with such a big ego, throwing their weight around,” Smith said. “I wanted to show them that I can be a regular person.”
For more from Smith on his college golf journey, check out the full episode of The Scoop below.