JR Smith’s time in the NBA effectively ended after he won the 2020 championship with the Los Angeles Lakers — but his sports career has been far from over since then.
Smith enrolled at North Carolina A&T State to pursue a degree in liberal studies and play collegiate golf. Although the 36-year-old earned over $90 million during his NBA career and won two NBA titles, he was cleared to play for the Aggies’ golf team thanks to the NCAA’s two-sports rule and recent changes to NIL regulations.
And the former guard seems to excel both athletically and academically in his first year of higher education. Smith won North Carolina’s Academic Athlete of the Year award after finishing with a 4.0 GPA.
His success didn’t escape LeBron James’ attention. James took to Twitter to congratulate his former Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers teammate on the achievement:
— LeBron James (@KingJames) April 26, 2022
Smith also took to Twitter to open up about his fears and how he has been able to overcome them:
If I’m being honest at all, I was tariffed to go back to school… Literally, these assignments still make my heads sweat. Overcoming these fears of being vulnerable and open about my disability has given me real power! Power no one will ever take from me!
— JR Smith (@TheRealJRSmith) April 26, 2022
James has been publicly rooting for Smith ever since he became a student-athlete last summer. “Go Aggies golf team,” he wrote on Twitter after the NCAA officially ruled his former teammate eligible to play the sport at the collegiate level.
Recently, Smith signed a sponsorship deal with Lululemon, becoming the apparel brand’s golf ambassador. His college accolades come 18 years after he jumped from high school straight to the 2004 NBA Draft.
Lakers will do ‘everything they can’ to keep 2027 & 2029 first-round picks amid Russell Westbrook negotiations
On the NBA draft front, the Lakers will reportedly do what they can to keep their 2027 and 2029 first-round picks despite their hopes of offloading Russell Westbrook’s contract in the summer.
However, L.A. might still eventually give up one of their first-rounders if that turns out to be the best option to part ways with Westbrook and improve the roster.
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