Childhood & Early Life
Earl Joseph Smith was born in Freehold Borough, New Jersey, on September 9, 1985. Both his parents were connected to sports in their younger years. His father, Earl Smith Jr., too, was a basketball player, but he stopped playing later. His mother, Ida Smith, was a famous cheerleader.
Smith grew up with five siblings: three brothers and two sisters, who were all interested in sports. His eldest brother played football, and both his sisters threw shot put. His younger brothers played football, baseball, and basketball. One of his brothers, Chris Smith, is a professional basketball player.
He grew up in Lakewood, a small town in central New Jersey. He had a keen interest in sports, especially basketball, from the very beginning. In Lakewood, all of his friends and family played sports and were very supportive of each other.
He grew up playing football, baseball, and basketball, and he was good at all of them. However, basketball was always his priority. He played baseball in his early years, but he stopped after ninth grade because he wanted play ‘Amateur Athletic Union’ (AAU) basketball. He started with learning to pass the ball, and then, when he grew up, he was moved to small forward and shooting guard.
He went to ‘Millstone Middle School’ and graduated in 1999. Following this, he attended ‘Steinert High School’ and ‘McCorristin Catholic High School.’ Soon, he moved to ‘Lakewood High School,’ where he played high-school basketball for the first time. He then got transferred to ‘Saint Benedict's Preparatory School,’ where he continued playing basketball.
In 2003, Smith signed a deal to play college basketball with the ‘North Carolina Tar Heels.’ He played in the ‘McDonald’s All-American Game’ in 2004, where he was the co-MVP, along with Dwight Howard. He then decided to apply for the ‘NBA’ draft and got selected as the 18th overall, by the ‘New Orleans Hornets.’
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JR Smith made his professional basketball debut with the ‘New Orleans Hornets.’ In his first season with the ‘Hornets,’ he scored 10.3 points, 2.0 rebounds, and 1.9 assists. In 2005, he was named the ‘Western Conference Rookie of the Month’ three consecutive times: in January, February, and March.
In the second season, his numbers fell, and he ended up averaging 7.7 points, 2 rebounds, and 1.1 assists. The team spent a good part of the season in Oklahoma City because of Hurricane Katrina. In 2006, he and forward-center PJ Brown were traded to the ‘Chicago Bulls’ for the star center Tyson Chandler.
In July 2006, He was traded one more time, to the ‘Denver Nuggets,’ for guard Howard Eisley. In February 2007, Smith sustained an injury in his left knee, which required surgery. This led to him missing crucial games for the subsequent weeks. He averaged 13 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 1.4 assists in his first season with the ‘Nuggets.’
His performance in the first playoffs of the 2006–2007 season was slightly disappointing. He averaged 12.3 points, 2.1 rebounds, and 1.7 assists during the season. He also had to face suspension from the team for first three regular-season games of 2007–2008, owing to his role in an incident at a Denver nightclub.
During his second stint with the playoffs, in a first-round matchup with the ‘Los Angeles Lakers,’ he played for 27.0 minutes, averaging 18.3 points per game, on 53.5% shooting. He also had a three-point shooting percentage of 31.8%.
During his third trip to the playoffs, he averaged 14.9 points per game, on 45.4% shooting. He helped his team qualify for the finals of the ‘Western Conference.’ In the 2009–2010 season, Smith scored 41 points against the ‘Atlanta Hawks,’ with 10 three-pointers. He also shot 10-of-17 from 3-point range. He finished the season with the second-most three-pointers in the league, off the bench. He also averaged 15.4 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 2.4 assists. .
After playing for five years with the ‘Nuggets,’ he joined the ‘Zhejiang Golden Bulls’ of the ‘Chinese Basketball Association’ (CBA), due to the 2011 ‘NBA’ lockout. He scored a ‘CBA’ career-high 60 points and 14 three-pointers in 18 attempts off the bench, in a 122–110 win over the ‘Qingdao Eagles.’
While playing for the ‘Golden Bulls,’ he was awarded with the ‘Foreign Player of the Week’ award. He was chosen as a starter for the ‘Southern Division All-Stars’ in the 2012 ‘CBA All-Star Game,’ but he decided not to play due to “personal reasons.”
In 2012, he joined the ‘New York Knicks.’ He made his ‘Knicks’ debut against the ‘Dallas Mavericks.’ He scored 12.5 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and a career-high 1.5 steals per game that season.
Throughout this time, he was awarded with a number of titles, such as the ‘NBA Sixth Man of the Year’ for the 2013 season. In that season, he scored a career-high 18.1 points per game, with 5.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.3 steals per game.
In 2015, he was traded to the ‘Cleveland Cavaliers.’ He led the team to win the 2016 ‘NBA Championship,’ despite going down 3–1 in the series. With this, he won his first ‘NBA’ title. Currently, he plays for the ‘Cleveland Cavaliers,’ along with renowned professional basketball players such as Lebron James, Kevin Love, and Tristan Thompson.
JR Smith is married to Jewel Harris since August 8, 2016. They are blessed with three daughters: Demi Smith, Peyton Smith, and Dakota Smith. JR and Jewel were already raising two children when they got married. His daughter Demi helped him propose marriage to Jewel.
His youngest daughter, Dakota, was born five months premature, in January 2017. At the time of birth, she weighed just one pound. It was a very difficult phase for him and his family, but he overcame all odds. Dakota is all healthy and happy now.
JR Smith’s career has been plagued with controversies. In February 2007, he and Carmelo Anthony were involved in a car accident. Nobody was hurt, but it was revealed later that the car Smith was driving belonged to Anthony. Later, in June 2007, he got into another car accident. Smith got away with minor injuries, but his best friend, Andre Bell, who was in the same car, passed away.