There is Marquis Blount, who grew up fatherless with a drug-addled mother.
And Sade Burrell, who went to elementary school dotted with bruises from beatings her mother delivered with a broomstick.
And Cece Hollis, who, at 16, called social services to escape from a mother who neglected and abused her and a younger sister.
And there are 20 other young men and women whose childhoods were ravaged by pain and abandonment. Former foster teens, they’re now college graduates thanks to Alex Smith and his foundation.
On Tuesday, Smith’s eight-year career with the 49ers officially ended when his trade to the Kansas City Chiefs was approved on the opening day of free agency in the NFL.
For most of his tenure, he was the Bay Area’s most polarizing athlete, a No. 1 overall draft pick who inspired endless debate about his ability. At the end, though, the conversation turned from his quarterbacking to his character.
In 2012, his mentoring of Colin Kaepernick, the phenom who stole his job in the midst of Smith’s long-awaited turnaround, inspired universal admiration. Before last month’s Super Bowl, Jim Harbaugh said his backup “coaches Colin now more than I do, and that speaks of the type of person and teammate Alex Smith is.”
Alex Smith Foundation
It was a final example of Smith’s decency, a quality on display through the years as he endured injuries, criticism and subpar performances without a classless word in response.
In the final analysis, Smith’s character will be a huge part of his legacy with the 49ers. Particularly when considering the work he’s quietly done through the Alex Smith Foundation.
In 2007, two years after its inception, the foundation established the Alex Smith Guardian Scholars Program at San Diego State University. In the past six years, 23 of the 30 foster teens who received scholarships have graduated thanks, in part, to the staggering support they’ve received: up to five years’ tuition, year-round housing, books, mentors, career guidance, health services and living expenses.
The foundation has been funded in large part with Smith’s money. He’s also devoted his time – to support teens, who, until recently, were emancipated from the foster system at age 18.
No money. No support system. Good luck.
Smith became aware of their plight just days after he was drafted in 2005. His mother, Pam, who works in social services, took him to visit San Pasqual Academy, a residential school for foster teens outside San Diego. The trip had an unspoken purpose: She wanted her son to have an impact beyond football.
Alex Smith gave his all – off the field, too
San Francisco Chronicle | Mar 13