"A lot of these kids don't understand that they can't control their environment. They can't control their parents. They can't control decisions they make. They can't control anything that's going on in their household, which is where a majority of our stress comes from. But they can control their effort, their attitude, and chasing their education," Smith says. "That was my plan, so I try to share that with them and I try to understand the different types of trauma because that's what it is."
For new dads and future dads, the blueprint the NFL wide receiver crafted for himself can be summarized by these six principles, a fitting number for someone who has scored 41 career touchdowns, including playoffs.
1. Don't Underestimate The Value Of A Good Education
Smith's mother continued to go to school after starting her family and instilled in her children a belief that learning offers a path to a better life.
Smith found out just how serious his mother was about his education when he was a freshman at Stafford High School in Falmouth, Virginia. Smith was the starting varsity point guard on the basketball team, but Jenkins pulled him off the squad after he got a C on a midterm exam. Smith to this day can't recall the class, but coaches had to explain to his mother that it just a test and not a final grade. After a couple of days, he was back on the hardwood.
"I knew I needed to further my education to make sure I wasn't in the same situation, to make sure when I had kids and a wife and a family that they weren’t in the same situation," Smith says.
Football provided Smith with a free education at the University of Maryland. Smith earned his bachelor's degree in criminology and criminal justice in three and a half years. He calls being the first member of his family to earn his degree his "biggest accomplishment."
3. Find A Good Teammate
Smith met his wife while the two were at the University of Maryland. Chanel hails from Conshohocken, Pennsylvania and was a track star at Plymouth Whitemarsh High School, about 20 miles from Lincoln Financial Field, and attended Maryland on an athletic scholarship of her own.
The two quickly became close friends after meeting at a party. Smith isn't one to divulge his feelings at ease. He had built up walls from the struggles of his childhood. But she chipped away at them and he eventually opened up without realizing it.
That was important because the turmoil of his childhood had not eased once he was in college. His mother, in fact, was incarcerated while Smith was at Maryland for her involvement in a fight. It was not her first time in prison. She was previously jailed for shooting the abusive stepdad in the leg, roughly a year or so after the car incident, but was pardoned by Virginia Governor Mark Warner. Smith's grandmother, Mary, took care of the siblings until Jenkins was released. Still, the stress of the family turmoil weighed heavily on Smith while he was at Maryland. He wanted to come home to help his brothers and sisters but knew that this opportunity was one he could not afford to waste.
"Nothing ever bothered him from the outside. He didn't talk about his mom much," his wife says today of those days. "He didn't talk about his dad much. He was pretty happy all of the time. I wouldn't have known otherwise that something deeper was going on unless we talked like we did."
Today, Chanel Smith continues to help bring out the best in Torrey especially when it comes to the Torrey Smith Family Fund.
"I make him do more than he should because we live it, we breathe it. Every time I wake up it's an idea or what can we do? That's all we talk about," she says. "We knew right away that we wanted to be that support for other kids. It's another reason why we connected. We both have that passion."
Chanel Smith taught elementary school in Baltimore while he played with the Ravens and became a stay-at-home mom when T.J., the oldest of two boys, was born. But Torrey Smith is right there to relieve her as soon as he comes home after a long day of practice and meetings at the NovaCare Complex.
"He's awesome. Sometimes I feel like I give him too much responsibility because he works so hard and when he comes home I give him the kids right away," she says. "He really understands that being a stay-at-home mom is just as hard, if not harder. He realizes when he has the babies for a couple of hours how ridiculously hard it is. He's super understanding."
5. Be Willing To Forgive
Smith's biological father served in the military, embarking on overseas tours to Iraq, Kuwait, and South Korea while he was growing up. He may not have been involved in Torrey's youth, but he's a constant presence as a grandfather.
Chanel Smith, who doesn't have a close relationship with her father, helped build the bridge that would eventually bring Torrey and Rhodes together. She saw a willingness in Rhodes to become more involved and figured it was better late than never for the two to become close.
"Because of the dynamic of my family, I've always known him as a great guy, but he didn't know how to be a good father if that makes sense. It wasn't until my son (T.J.) was born that we really got closer," he says.
"When my son came, I saw how involved he wanted to be and I thought maybe he could be a great grandfather. That's what he's done. He's been an awesome grandfather."