by Seth Wilkerson
The city of Three Way hosted a celebration last Friday to honor one of their most prominent citizens. Trey Smith was in town and was recognized with a sign unveiling and proclamation in his honor.
The late Three Way Mayor Larry Sanders wanted to do something special for Smith, who has been a resident of Three Way his entire life. After being a super star in high school, college and professional football, Sanders and the city board agreed to do something special to recognize Smith. Sanders suggested a highway sign to Three Way aldermen Danny Wade and Mary Ann Tremblay. Later, Smith and the Kansas City Chiefs won the Super Bowl, making his accomplishments even greater.
The board came up with a design and the plan was in action. Unfortunately, Mayor Sanders passed away before he could see his plan come to fruition. As vice mayor, Tremblay assumed the duties of mayor and continued with the plan.
Working with Smith’s father, Henry Smith, the board set a date that worked with Trey’s schedule and the celebration was set for Friday, October 13, 2023. The celebration not only had the sign unveiling, the city presented Smith with a proclamation designating October 13, 2023 as Trey Smith Day.
Smith had several family members attend the even, which was attended by dozens of Three Way citizens, fans, well-wishers and members of the USJ Bruins football team.
With Mayor Tremblay out of town with a celebration of her own, the first birthday of her first grandbaby, Alderman Wade, as vice mayor, emceed the event, along with Alderlady Franca Young. Among the speakers of the day were USJ Head of Schools Don Roe, Smith’s former USJ football coach Mickey Marley and his father, Henry. All three had wonderful words and experiences with Smith and their pride showed in their words.
Life is a series of obstacles and challenges, and for Smith, starting offensive lineman for the Kansas City Chiefs, this sentiment could not be truer. From a young age, Smith has faced adversity head-on, rising above his circumstances to become the athlete he is today.
Smith is no stranger to the struggles life can present. Despite facing numerous obstacles, Trey found solace and inspiration in the game of football. He poured his heart and soul into the sport, using it as an outlet for his emotions and a way to escape the hardships he faced.
Smith’s talent on the football field did not go unnoticed. In high school, he was a highly touted prospect, attracting attention from top college programs across the country. Ultimately, he decided to attend the University of Tennessee, a school renowned for its football tradition.
However, Smith’s journey at Tennessee was far from smooth sailing. In his sophomore year, his dreams were temporarily derailed when blood clots were discovered in his lungs. This devastating diagnosis forced him to the sidelines, unable to compete with his teammates.
For most individuals, such a setback would be discouraging, if not debilitating, but not for Smith. He refused to allow his circumstances to define him, instead using this period of forced rest and recovery to fuel his determination. Smith worked tirelessly to overcome his health issues and return to the football field, knowing that his dreams of playing at the highest level were still within reach.
True to his tenacious spirit, Smith made a triumphant return, and from that moment forward, his career trajectory skyrocketed. He became an integral part of the University of Tennessee’s offensive line, showcasing his skills and proving why he was highly regarded as the top offensive lineman prospect in the country.
Smith’s remarkable resilience did not go unnoticed by NFL scouts, and in 2021, he was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs. Since then, he has continued to defy the odds, establishing himself as a reliable starter on one of the most dominant offensive lines in the league. Despite the physically demanding nature of his position, he has not missed a single game, a testament to his unwavering dedication and work ethic.
Smith’s journey serves as an inspiration not only to aspiring football players, but anyone facing adversity in life. Through his determination, he has shown that setbacks do not define us; rather, it is our ability to rise above them that truly matters.
Smith’s story also serves as a reminder that success is not achieved overnight. It is earned through hard work, perseverance, and the unwavering belief in oneself. His path to success has been a testament to his resilience and his refusal to give up, even when the odds seemed stacked against him.
During the program, coach Marley spoke about Smith’s talent and ability to play the game at a high level.
“There’s a lot of big men who play football,” Marley said of his former player. “There’s not too many like Trey Smith who are big men with little men feet that are fast.”
Smith’s father spoke about Trey and his love for the game and its fans. “Just last night, as we were leaving the Kansas City Chiefs game, there were fans that were calling his name. Trey made sure to high five all of them as he exited the building.”
USJ’s Roe referenced the character of Trey that was shown even when he was in high school, “Trey may not even remember this story but there was a day that we observed Trey pull his vehicle over to where some kids were playing football at the lower school. He made time to spend with those kids and I’m sure he made their day.”
Smith spoke about what helped him persevere personally, saying, “A couple of things, resiliency and perseverance through faith. I had a point in my life where everything was great. You know, 5-Star, No. 1 guy, All-SEC, All-Freshman world. I had everything going for me. Then I had the blood clots and everything was taken away. At the end of the day, I had to trust my relationship with God.”
“I was 15 when I lost my mom,” Smith continued of hurdles in his life to overcome. “You know, in those lowest moments of my life, it was those things that brought me through. So, no matter how bleak it is, keep your head down to the grindstone and work and you will like the results.”
Trey Smith had to learn early in life how to stay focused. In eighth grade, colleges started to look at him and Smith received his first scholarship offer closely thereafter.
“I was hungry,” Smith said. “I wanted to be the best. I had a goal set in mind at a very early age that I wanted to play in the NFL. I wanted the financial incentives from it. I wanted to be a great player and that is something that meant a lot to me.”
It was that hunger that kept him focused as he finished out his high school football career and then his college career that led him to being a starter on the Kansas City Chiefs today.
“When you love the game of football, you love everything that comes with it,” he continued. “There are days you have to wake up at 6 a.m. and start the workouts. Running three miles even after practice sometimes, but you gotta love and appreciate the grind for what it is. It’s not a pretty thing. What you see right now in my life is pretty, but getting to this point is not pretty. It’s a dark road and you have to enjoy the journey to it.”
As Smith continues to excel on the football field, he remains a symbol of hope and inspiration for countless individuals. His story is a reminder that with perseverance, a never-give-up attitude and faith that God is in control, anything is possible.
When you are driving from Medina, Jackson or Humboldt, when you see those brand new signs welcoming you to Three Way, just remember, whether it be in sports, academics or any other aspect of life, you can draw strength from Trey Smith’s journey and strive to overcome the hurdles that life throws our way.