Born: May 15, 1969
Place of Birth: Pensacola, FL
Zodiac Sign: Taurus
Emmitt James Smith III (born May 15, 1969) is a former college and professional American football running back who became the National Football League's (NFL) all-time leading rusher during his fifteen seasons in the league during the 1990s and 2000s.
Smith grew up in Pensacola, Florida and became the second-leading rusher in American high school football history while playing for Escambia High School. Smith then attended the University of Florida, where he set numerous school rushing records over a three-year college career with the Florida Gators. After being named a unanimous All-American in 1989, Smith chose to forgo his senior year of eligibility and play professionally. He came back and completed his college coursework, graduating from the University of Florida in 1996.
The Dallas Cowboys selected Smith in the first round of the 1990 NFL draft. During his long professional career, he became the NFL's all-time rushing leader with 18,355 yards, breaking the record formerly held by Walter Payton, and played for three Super Bowl-winning Dallas Cowboys teams. He also holds the record for career rushing touchdowns with 164. Smith is the only running back to ever win a Super Bowl championship, the NFL Most Valuable Player award, the NFL rushing crown, and the Super Bowl Most Valuable Player award all in the same season (1993). He is also one of four running backs to lead the NFL in rushing three or more consecutive seasons, joining Steve Van Buren, Jim Brown and Earl Campbell. Smith led the league in rushing and won the Super Bowl in the same year three times (1992, 1993, and 1995) when to that point it had never been done. Smith is also one of only two non-kickers in NFL history to score more than 1,000 career points (the other being Jerry Rice). Smith was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010 and the College Football Hall of Fame in 2006.
Smith played thirteen seasons with the Cowboys and two with the Arizona Cardinals. While playing for Dallas, Smith plus quarterback Troy Aikman and wide receiver Michael Irvin were known as "The Triplets," and they led their team to three Super Bowl championships during the 1990s.
Personal Life and Family
Smith was born in Pensacola, Florida, the son of Mary J. Smith and Emmitt James Smith, Jr. He attended Escambia High School in Pensacola, where he played high school football and ran track for the Escambia Gators. During Smith's high school football career, Escambia won the state football championship, and Smith rushed for 106 touchdowns and 8,804 yards, which was the second most yardage in the history of American high school football at the time. Emmitt rushed for over 100 yards in 45 of the 49 games he started for Escambia (including the last 28 in a row) and finished with a 7.8 yards per carry average. Twice, he broke the 2,000-yard rushing mark in a season. In track & field, Smith competed as a sprinter and was a member of the 4 × 100 m (42.16 s) relay squad.
For his efforts, Smith was named the USA Today and Parade magazine high school player of the year for 1986. In 2007, twenty years after Smith graduated from high school, the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) named Smith to its "All-Century Team," recognizing him as one of the thirty-three greatest Florida high school football players of the last 100 years. As part of its "100 Years of Florida High School Football" awards ceremony, FHSAA named Smith as its "Player of the Century."
Despite his accomplishments and accolades, some college recruiting analysts opined that he was too small and too slow to succeed in major college football when he signed to play for the University of Florida. Recruiting expert Max Emfinger said of Smith, "Emmitt Smith is a lugger, not a runner. He's not fast. He can't get around the corner. When he falls flat on his face, remember where you heard it first."
Smith was initiated as a member of the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity at the University of Florida. He returned to the university during the NFL offseason to complete his coursework, and graduated with his bachelor's degree in public recreation in May 1996.
Smith is a devout Christian. He has a daughter, Rheagen Smith (born November 2, 1998), with ex-girlfriend Hope Wilson. He married former Miss Virginia USA beauty queen Patricia Southall on April 22, 2000. They have three children together: Emmitt James IV (born May 15, 2002), Skylar (born October 15, 2003), and Elijah Alexander James (born September 22, 2010). Smith is also the stepfather to Jasmine Page Lawrence (born January 15, 1996), who is Southall's daughter with ex-husband, actor-comedian Martin Lawrence.
His brother, Emory, played on the practice squads of the Cowboys and the Green Bay Packers.