February 8, 1920|
August 28, 1967 (aged 47)|
|Height:||6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)|
|Weight:||197 lb (89 kg)|
|NFL Draft:||1942 / Round: 13 / Pick: 119|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics|
|Player stats at PFR|
Smith was born in Faribault, Minnesota, where he excelled in high school football under the coach Win Brockmeyer at Faribault High School. The football field at Faribault High is now named after him. He attended the University of Minnesota, playing halfback for the back-to-back national champion Gophers in 1940 and 1941. Smith was captain of the 1941 Minnesota team. He received the Heisman two days after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Smith earned first team All-American and All-Big Ten Conference honors in 1941.
During World War II, he served as a United States Navy fighter pilot. After the war, he briefly played in the National Football League (NFL) with the Green Bay Packers (1945-1948) and the Los Angeles Rams (1948).
The movie Smith of Minnesota was released in 1942. The premiere occurred in his home town of Faribault, Minnesota, to the amazement of the locals due to this novelty. However, laughter was heard in the movie house when certain advanced technologies, for that time (direct-dial phones, streetlights, etc.) were seen as part of the scenery--courtesy of being filmed in Hollywood, California.
Smith was diagnosed with cancer in the spring of 1967, and he spent the next several months visiting young cancer patients with the Rev. William Cantwell. Smith lost over half his body weight before succumbing to the disease. Cantwell, who was unfamiliar with Smith's sports achievements, nominated Smith for sainthood.