Sunday morning Torrey Smith and his family received news of a tragic accident on Route 672 Chatham Lane in the Montross area of Virginia. 19-year-old Tevin Jones, Smith’s younger brother, would not be coming home after a tragic motorcycle accident.
Via the Baltimore Sun:
According to Virginia State Police Sgt. Thomas J. Molnar, state police responded to the crash just before midnight on Route 672 Chatham Lane a half-mile west of Route 645 Zacata Road in Westmoreland County.
Jones’ 2006 Yamaha YZF-R1 was traveling eastbound on Route 672 when he ran off the right side of the roadway and struck a utility pole, according to police.
Although he was wearing a helmet, police said Jones died at the scene.
“Alcohol is not a factor in the crash,” Molnar said. “The crash remains under investigation.”
The tragic news devastated Smith, who took care of Jones at a young with the help of his mother while the family underwent tough times. The close connection between Torrey and his six younger siblings made it especially difficult for the Baltimore Ravens Wide Receiver to go to work Sunday night less than a day after hearing of his brother’s tragic passing.
Despite the extremely difficult circumstances, Smith decided to play on Sunday, rejoining his teammates for a chilling moment of silence before kickoff in the Raven’s contest against the New England Patriots. The organization left the decision of whether or not to play up to Smith, who took to Twitter to publicly commemorate his brother before suiting up.
In a performance that evoked memories of an emotional Brett Favre in primetime, Smith caught six passes for 127 yards and two touchdowns, playing a large part in the Ravens’ thrilling 31-30 victory.
“It was awesome, it was really special. You could even hear it in the crowd today, they were really letting him know that we really care about him, this city cares about him, and this team does.” Quarterback Joe Flacco said of his teammate’s performance in an emotional atmosphere at M&T Bank Stadium.
“He’s a great kid, one of the best I’ve ever been around and you really feel for him right now.”
“It means a lot. Not just for us, but for my family as well.
I didn’t know whether or not I was going to play today. We were able to come out and get a win and play well. That’s my little brother, I love him to death and we’re just thankful for all the support from everybody around the league and all the fans in general.”
An emotional Smith told NBC’s Michelle Tafoya following the game.
It was an inspiring night for Smith, who refused to allow a tragedy of monumental proportions get in the way of the task at hand.
Just as he persevered years ago to become the man of the house at a young age, Torrey came through for his teammates on a night no one even expected him to play.
Where lesser human beings would have wilted under the emotional weight of losing a family member, Smith chose to embrace the challenge of a football game, harnessing his energy into an epic triumph of the human spirit and the power of sport.
For Torrey Smith, Brett Favre and many other athletes before them, sport can provide a haven away from the weight of real life struggles.
For a few hours Sunday night Smith transcended tragedy and turned it into celebration, encouraged by fans in what became an ultimate exercise in mourning.
Thanks to Smith’s performance Sunday night scores of sports fans will wake up Monday morning to learn of Tevin Jones, the always smiling, happy-go-lucky kid who was raised by his big brother, the NFL star.
“He was one of those kids who you enjoy coaching. It was a pleasure to have him be a part of my program. He led the way for the other guys by doing things the right way. His teachers loved him. Tevin did everything by the book.”
Jones’ former high school football coach told the Baltimore Sun.
Despite the gravity of Justin Tucker’s controversial game-winning field goal, Sunday’s final score was relegated irrelevant in the wake of what transpired over four quarters.
Ravens fans embodied home field advantage in the name of Torrey Smith and his family, supporting a member of the franchise family that had come to mourn in the only way he knew how, playing the game he loved.
Torrey Smith made a brave choice to play during week three of the NFL season, persevering in the wake of horrible tragedy.
His performance Sunday night may fail to register in NFL record books, but instead will resonate in the hearts and minds of sports fans moved by what they felt while watching a football game in Baltimore.
In British Columbia (where I’m from), where sports fans are all-too-aware of the emotional weight athletes can carry on their shoulders, Smith’s performance served as a timeless reminder that happiness can be a choice.
Options often fade under a cloud of suffering and despair, but there is always light at the end of the tunnel.
Sometimes, that light leads to the field of play, where athletes can escape a world of hurt and help the home team all at the same time.