Having a brother of my own, I can hardly imagine the day that Baltimore Raven wide receiver Torrey Smith had Sunday. Around 2 a.m. Sunday, Torrey’s 19-year-old brother Tevin Jones was killed in a motorcycle accident in Virginia. Smith was extremely close to his younger brother, whom he mentored and helped raise with his mother.
Upon hearing the news, Smith immediately drove from Baltimore to Virginia to tend to his grieving family—less than 18 hours before the Sunday night matchup with New England, the team that had just survived the Ravens last year to advance to the Super Bowl. Head Coach John Harbaugh excused Smith, leaving the choice to play up to Smith
Smith did play. He chose to return to Baltimore four hours prior to kickoff and help his team try and secure a needed win. The team and home crowd paid tribute to Smith and his family with a moment of silence before the game.
Wiping away tears during the opening, weighed by unimaginable grief and fatigue from undoubtedly little sleep and a day full of travel, Smith put all that aside. This game was for Tevin. Smith put forth an outstanding performance, reminiscent of the game played by Brett Favre following the death of his own father in 2003. Smith recorded 127 yards on six grabs, including two huge touchdown catches, helping his team win in dramatic fashion 31-30, despite some absurd calls by the replacement officials, including an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Coach Harbaugh who was trying to call a timeout. Understandably, this call was met by what announcer Al Michaels called “The loudest manure chant I’ve ever heard.”
The first of Smith’s touchdowns, a 25-yarder, was met with mass applause and shouts of “Torrey, Torrey, Torrey!” as Smith took a knee and bowed his head, a tribute to Tevin. His monstrous play continued late as he pulled in a crucial goal-line catch late to pull his squad within two points. Similar to the first, Smith was again greeted with love from the home crowd and his teammates who were quick embrace him.
When the game came down to rookie Justin Tucker’s field goal, the stadium and America held its collective breath. When the ball eventually just squeaked between the uprights, the stadium erupted with an explosion of emotions. The Ravens had redeemed their heartbreaking loss. More importantly, the team had rallied together and helped win the game under a greater cause: the emotional well-being of one of the team’s brighter stars.
The highs and lows of Smith’s day are indescribable, and the performance itself was something special. Although this pain will last for some time, Smith should take pride in knowing that he did something very special for his team, for football, and most importantly for his family. This performance will be a huge step in the healing process, helping get Smith and his family back to the business of living and moving forward. After the game, Smith shared similar thoughts on the game and circumstances, “It was tough emotionally. I didn’t know how I would hold up. I was telling my teammates a minute ago that this is new territory for me personally. I never really had to deal with a death in the family, let alone my brother. It’s part of life and, due to my teammates and my family and friends, I’ll be able to get over it.”
Smith posted earlier Sunday on Twitter: “I can’t believe my little brother is gone… be thankful for your loved ones and tell them you love them… this is the hardest thing ever.”
Sound advice from Torrey Smith. Thoughts and prayers with Torrey and the Smith family.