Freedom Foundation welcomes new member

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 4, 2007


The Freedom Foundation has just added a new member to their roster of visionaries. Ronald Smith, a Selma native, came on board this month as coordinator for youth programs.

Smith will work with a variety of community outreach programs that target adolescents and their families. He said he first became involved with the Freedom Foundation after meeting its president, Mark Duke, at a Sav-a-Life benefit in July. &8220;I didn’t know much about the Freedom Foundation at the time, but when I found out about the purpose, and I heard the stories, it shook me,&8221; Smith said.

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Smith brings real-life experience to the youth of Selma. After graduating from Southside High School in 1989, he played college basketball at Alabama Southern for his freshman and sophomore years, then went University of Texas-Arlington for his junior and senior years. Smith went on to play basketball professionally overseas in Taipei, Taiwan and Cyprus before coming back to the U.S. and playing with the USBL League in Dothan and Lake Charles, La.

Smith said he began to lead a life focused on nice clothes and jewelry.

After he came back to the States, he fell into a deep depression.

He even contemplated suicide, attempting it three times. Each time, however, he said something held him back.

&8220;I remember the first time, I was drinking and driving-and I’m not even a big drinker-and I planned to run into a truck on the other side of the freeway. But it hit me, what would happen to the guy in the truck? I thought to myself, I don’t want to involve him in this too.&8221;

The last time, Smith contemplated killing himself with a 12 gauge shotgun. But, he said something inside him told him he didn’t really want to die.

Now, Smith shares his story with youth within the city and all over Dallas County. He participates in one-on-one mentoring, speaks at area high schools and co-hosts a radio talk show with fellow Freedom Foundation staffers

Duke and Gwen Brown, called

&8220;Real Talk,&8221; on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1-2 p.m. on the station Z105.3. &8220;The Foundation allows me to utilize what I do best, work with the people,&8221; Smith said.

The Freedom Foundation, a non-profit organization, has several projects currently in development. Smith said there will be after-school programs that will assist with job training and placement for both high school and college-aged students.

The Foundation also has plans for a system to bus kids in from county schools to the community outreach center once renovations are completed.