Tyler Smith says reason for return to Knoxville is 'you don't run from your mistakes in life'

Former Tennessee basketball player Tyler Smith , left, signs a ball for 9 year-old Robert Krakoviak during halftime of his game in the Rocky Top League at Bearden High School Thursday, June 17, 2010.

Photo by Wade Payne

Former Tennessee basketball player Tyler Smith , left, signs a ball for 9 year-old Robert Krakoviak during halftime of his game in the Rocky Top League at Bearden High School Thursday, June 17, 2010.

Trae Golden on his role with the Vols

Tyler Smith made the three-hour drive from his home in Pulaski to Knoxville Thursday afternoon wondering what type of reception he would get at Bearden High School.

"I thought maybe it would be mixed,'' said Smith, who hadn't played in front of Tennessee fans since leading the Vols to a 66-59 upset at Memphis on New Year's Eve. "But I knew however it was going to be, I needed to come back for all the fans that stayed behind me.

"I made a mistake, and you don't run from your mistakes in life.''

Smith, a former first-team All-SEC pick, was dismissed from the UT men's basketball team on Jan. 8 after facing misdemeanor weapons charges as a result of a well-documented Jan. 1 arrest after a traffic stop.

But Smith, who played in Turkey after pleading guilty to possession of a firearm with an altered serial number and receiving two years probation, was greeted with nothing but applause when he was introduced prior to tipoff of his Pilot Rocky Top League game.

There were even more cheers when Choice Spine coach Rick Campbell took Smith out in the final minute of his team's 119-104 victory over the News Sentinel.

"I wanted Tyler to have that moment, because he has always been a respectful, first-class guy,'' Campell said. "I knew the fans would be appreciative of him, because the ones that come to these games have always been very supportive of the players.''

Smith wasn't originally expected to play in the PRTL until next week, as he has workouts with the NBA's Dallas Mavericks, Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks coming up this weekend.

"But Cameron (Tatum) called me and told me our (summer) team lost our first game by 16 or 18 points,'' Smith said. "He asked me to come, and I wanted to be here for the team.''

Smith scored 26 points on 11-of-19 shooting and grabbed 12 rebounds, playing the entire 40 minutes.

"Tyler showed again tonight he has a big-time game,'' UT fan Earl Brown said. "You couldn't help but notice the great reception he got. The fans were happy to see him play again, and I think he was happy to be back.''

Smith said when he returned to the United States his original plan was to return to Europe and play another season over there, perhaps jumping to the same league in Spain that former UT player Chris Lofton starred in last spring.

"I wasn't going to go through any (NBA) workouts,'' Smith said. "I felt that (Jan. 1) incident was still to close, just five months ago. But I really miss my family, so I'll workout for some (NBA) teams and see if I can stay over here.

"Coming back to Knoxville tonight was special for me. I appreciate all the support.''

UT junior Scotty Hopson said Smith needed the boost from the fans.

"Tyler has been through a lot,'' Hopson said. "We're all real happy for him, and it was good to hear the fans cheering for him again.''

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Comments » 53

AtLeastMyTeamHasPerfectSeasons writes:

The bb team last season could've used him, but do the crime, pay the time. Sorry, can't feel too sorry for him.

stayingorange writes:

Don't think he expects people to feel sorry for him, and he basically did the time. Hope to see him playing in the NBA.

utvolfan16 writes:

He did not have to come back. It takes a big person to come back to a group after you let them down. It would have been much easier for him to stay away. Sounds like the kid is making right choices now.

UTByrd writes:

Tyler,
I've always had respect for you, I still do. The vast majority of people have, at some point in their life, made a decision(s) that led to a regrettable result.
I am positive you had no maliscious intent as regards the incident. You set a great example by facing up to any criticism that may come your way. You own up to accountability and that means a lot in my book.
Good luck in the pros. I know you'll make it.
Go VOLS!!!!!

Lostvolinhighweeds writes:

Young Mr. Smith never did anything bad (illegal yes, bad no).
As far as I am concerned, speeding was the most serious offense of the lot.

Jim_Bob writes:

Lost Vol...you are truely lost if you think having a gun with an altered serial number is not a big deal. I may be painting with a broad brush, but what looks like a thug, acts like a thug, tats up like a thug....just might be a thug. I think he will fit right in with the rest of the thugs in the NBA.

Lostvolinhighweeds writes:

in response to Jim_Bob:

Lost Vol...you are truely lost if you think having a gun with an altered serial number is not a big deal. I may be painting with a broad brush, but what looks like a thug, acts like a thug, tats up like a thug....just might be a thug. I think he will fit right in with the rest of the thugs in the NBA.

The right to keep and bear arms is guarenteed by the second amendment which says nothing about serial numbers.

Lostvolinhighweeds writes:

in response to Jim_Bob:

Lost Vol...you are truely lost if you think having a gun with an altered serial number is not a big deal. I may be painting with a broad brush, but what looks like a thug, acts like a thug, tats up like a thug....just might be a thug. I think he will fit right in with the rest of the thugs in the NBA.

In addition, I did not say it was not a legally big deal. I said it was not beeing bad.

always_vol (Inactive) writes:

I've always liked Tyler; I know that area of Tennessee, and the kids are pretty friendly.

But, yeah, he boned it up big time. Here is the tough part: he did what kids from Middle Tennessee do, at least from some backgrounds. If they feel threatened, they get guns.

You wonder: if if had been, say, Dane Bradshaw, Chris Lofton, or Steven Pearl doing something dumbe like that, what would the reaction have been??

Tyler had just enough 'gangsta' about him to scare people. A lot of people don't like the tattoos, either. So, it cost him.

Good luck, Tyler, hope it works out and people get to see you are a pretty cool kid.

wazzya69vol writes:

Tyler, you did the time. Good to see you back in Knoxville. Hope things work out for you either in NBA or other bb opportunities abroad.

VolWoman writes:

My mother told me years ago it takes a stronger person to admit their mistakes and live above them than someone who hasn't yet made a mistake or been caught if they did. I'm proud of the fans who gave him a lift that seems to mean a lot to him. He paid a huge price by losing most of his senior year.

jakethevolguy writes:

in response to DukeDeLuca:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Well said, Duke. And ditto!! GBO!!

pdhuff#552644 writes:

Done put it in the past.

Move on, life is a challenge enough without revisiting past mistakes.

VOLinATL writes:

Good for him. He admitted to what he did, has apologized, was punished, and it's time to move on. I hope he does well in life, with or without hoops.

77VolFS writes:

Proud of you Tyler, for being a man and taking this attitude about a mistake. We've all made them. I was really glad to see the crowd embrace you last night and I really enjoyed watching you play again. It especially warmed my heart watching you laugh with Coach Pearl and Cam Tatum after your game. You're part of the Big Orange family - we're human and we make mistakes but we're there to help each other along our life's journey. Hoping you do well at yout NBA workouts so that you can provide for your family and be closer to home.

Down_The_Field writes:

i believe, deep down, that tyler's a good guy. just did something stupid. me and my buddies used to do some stupid thing when we walked that campus.

he'll always be a vol to me.

Bogus writes:

in response to Lostvolinhighweeds:

The right to keep and bear arms is guarenteed by the second amendment which says nothing about serial numbers.

I'm sorry, but that statement was foolish at best. I'm a staunch supporter of gun rights, as I own four myself, but altering a serial number is illegal and you know it. If you follow the rules, you should be allowed to have a gun, but the law clearly states that you can't have one with altered serial numbers. Let's see you make that comment to an ATF agent as see how it goes over.

Biggie writes:

What kind of parents allow their kids to get his autograph? He's a criminal, not a role model.
He had a chance to be great, more of a chance than most of us get, and he blew it.

Biggie writes:

in response to JBVols1698:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

He did NOTHING for the University except embarrass us! His son wasn't with him the night he was caught with the illegal gun. Sorry, I ain't buyin his excuse.

Orangeatang writes:

I wouldn't let my kids near that criminal.

Chris4Vols22 writes:

in response to AtLeastMyTeamHasPerfectSeasons:

The bb team last season could've used him, but do the crime, pay the time. Sorry, can't feel too sorry for him.

Move on with your life.

Chris4Vols22 writes:

in response to 02champs#209256:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You're a football redneck who has nothing to contribute to this discussion. I'm going on a football article now JUST BECAUSE OF YOU to do something similar.

Chris4Vols22 writes:

in response to Orangeatang:

I wouldn't let my kids near that criminal.

You are a close-minded pierce.

Chris4Vols22 writes:

in response to Biggie:

He did NOTHING for the University except embarrass us! His son wasn't with him the night he was caught with the illegal gun. Sorry, I ain't buyin his excuse.

You don't know how sports work.

Chris4Vols22 writes:

in response to Biggie:

What kind of parents allow their kids to get his autograph? He's a criminal, not a role model.
He had a chance to be great, more of a chance than most of us get, and he blew it.

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

scubadad1 writes:

in response to Biggie:

He did NOTHING for the University except embarrass us! His son wasn't with him the night he was caught with the illegal gun. Sorry, I ain't buyin his excuse.

easy to hide behind a key board huh? doubt that your tone would be the same if you were face to face with the man. hope you have a great day.

Rebelnicky04 writes:

I think it takes QUITE a ROLE MODEL to come back to Knoxville where he was ridiculed and exposed for his mistake. We all make mistakes. I hope he gets a shot in the NBA and can provide the best life he's ever experienced for both him and his son. A man with character like that deserves no less.

Southland writes:

in response to always_vol:

I've always liked Tyler; I know that area of Tennessee, and the kids are pretty friendly.

But, yeah, he boned it up big time. Here is the tough part: he did what kids from Middle Tennessee do, at least from some backgrounds. If they feel threatened, they get guns.

You wonder: if if had been, say, Dane Bradshaw, Chris Lofton, or Steven Pearl doing something dumbe like that, what would the reaction have been??

Tyler had just enough 'gangsta' about him to scare people. A lot of people don't like the tattoos, either. So, it cost him.

Good luck, Tyler, hope it works out and people get to see you are a pretty cool kid.

What dumb comments. I was Tyler's dad's neighbor. People from that area-you think you know-all have guns but we use them for hunting. We dont ride around with illegal guns. I knew all of Tyler's family and they have all been shamed by his actions. Now, some of his upbringing is coming through since he got in trouble. He is showing more maturity and the kind of ethics taught at 1st Baptist of Bodenham.

TommyJack writes:

Ease off the guy. Lots of hypocritical mopes on here.

Lostvolinhighweeds writes:

in response to Bogus:

I'm sorry, but that statement was foolish at best. I'm a staunch supporter of gun rights, as I own four myself, but altering a serial number is illegal and you know it. If you follow the rules, you should be allowed to have a gun, but the law clearly states that you can't have one with altered serial numbers. Let's see you make that comment to an ATF agent as see how it goes over.

No, that staement was not foolish. Nowhere did I say that possessing a gun with an altered serial no. was legal. All I said was that in my opinion, the laws that make it illegal are unconstitutional. I do have the right to that opinion and to express it. I am no more intimidated to express my opinion to an ATF agent than to you.

theoldbear writes:

I couldn't help but notice in the first sentence that it only took Tyler Smith three hours to drive from Pulaski to Knoxville.

I've made that trip a time or two.

If he really made it in three hours, he's bucking for another speeding stop!

After watching last night's NBA championship game, I'm convinced that Tyler Smith can play in the NBA. Or at least sit on the bench as well as Michael Finley and Sheldon Williams did for the Celtics, and Luke Walton did for the Lakers!

rocky_topper writes:

Better hope Ramar isn't in town....he'll think run!

brod writes:

mixed feelings here.

Orangeatang writes:

in response to Chris4Vols22:

You are a close-minded pierce.

Yeah, I guess I am close-minded to people who commit crimes, have their bodies covered in tats, and smoke dope. But it's cool if that's what you're into.

77VolFS writes:

in response to Orangeatang:

I wouldn't let my kids near that criminal.

And that would be your perogative as a parent. But there are many parents who would use this to convey life lessons to their kids - serious errors in judgement can produce hard consequences but there's also forgiveness and restoration. A chance to be a man, face your issue, and start doing the right thing. Sounds very similar to God's redemptive story for his fallen creation. Of course, there will always be those that don't get to experience the game of life because they stay in the stands passing judgement on the players.

Orangeatang writes:

in response to 77VolFS:

And that would be your perogative as a parent. But there are many parents who would use this to convey life lessons to their kids - serious errors in judgement can produce hard consequences but there's also forgiveness and restoration. A chance to be a man, face your issue, and start doing the right thing. Sounds very similar to God's redemptive story for his fallen creation. Of course, there will always be those that don't get to experience the game of life because they stay in the stands passing judgement on the players.

It's cool if you want your kids to look up to someone like him. I'm sure they will turn out great.

Orangeatang writes:

in response to Witch_Doctor:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I've been on this site for a long time, and Witch Doctor has never had anything profound or insightful to say...not once. Time to just admit that Witch Doctor is really a couch potato with a G.E.D. who has never played a sport in his life.

Lostvolinhighweeds writes:

in response to 77VolFS:

And that would be your perogative as a parent. But there are many parents who would use this to convey life lessons to their kids - serious errors in judgement can produce hard consequences but there's also forgiveness and restoration. A chance to be a man, face your issue, and start doing the right thing. Sounds very similar to God's redemptive story for his fallen creation. Of course, there will always be those that don't get to experience the game of life because they stay in the stands passing judgement on the players.

Well said!

Chris4Vols22 writes:

in response to Orangeatang:

I've been on this site for a long time, and Witch Doctor has never had anything profound or insightful to say...not once. Time to just admit that Witch Doctor is really a couch potato with a G.E.D. who has never played a sport in his life.

I wouldn't call five and a half months a long time. Witchie makes legitimate observations, and subtly expresses his opinions in an artistic way. It's clearly something a person like you couldn't appreciate, since you seem to appreciate nothing.

77VolFS writes:

in response to Orangeatang:

It's cool if you want your kids to look up to someone like him. I'm sure they will turn out great.

No, I don't want my kids to look up to Tyler. He's just a man like me. I want them to set their sights on something much bigger and better.

TommyJack writes:

in response to Orangeatang:

I've been on this site for a long time, and Witch Doctor has never had anything profound or insightful to say...not once. Time to just admit that Witch Doctor is really a couch potato with a G.E.D. who has never played a sport in his life.

Bad post.
Teej never lies.

Orangeatang writes:

in response to Chris4Vols22:

I wouldn't call five and a half months a long time. Witchie makes legitimate observations, and subtly expresses his opinions in an artistic way. It's clearly something a person like you couldn't appreciate, since you seem to appreciate nothing.

It's been more than 5 months. I was lawyervol before Orangeatang. And writing as though you were from Haiti isn't that artistic, I'm sorry to say.

vol88 writes:

in response to tweetdriver63#346474:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You stole my thunder.

stratocaster54 writes:

"I made a mistake, and you don't run from your mistakes in life.''

“But Smith […] was greeted with nothing but applause when he was introduced prior to tipoff of his Pilot Rocky Top League game.”
This was a classy response by all. Makes me proud! Best of luck to Tyler with the NBA.

stratocaster54 writes:

in response to AtLeastMyTeamHasPerfectSeasons:

The bb team last season could've used him, but do the crime, pay the time. Sorry, can't feel too sorry for him.

I don't disagree, but I thought Tyler handled this head on. My hope is that you'll do as well when you mess up, and mess up you will! We all do.

scubadad1 writes:

in response to Orangeatang:

It's been more than 5 months. I was lawyervol before Orangeatang. And writing as though you were from Haiti isn't that artistic, I'm sorry to say.

and being a lawyer isn't.....well, i think that would speak for itself. you know the old story about sharks and lawyers....hope your having a great day.
bubbles always rise to the top.

Vol86 writes:

I do not think we have to hate the guy, but we should think before we worship him. Kids have done worse, and we should just hope he becomes a positive to our society.

Lostvolinhighweeds writes:

in response to volsrock54:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

It was never proven he was in possesion of illegal drugs. That belonged to one of the others (can't remember which one).

Lostvolinhighweeds writes:

in response to RockyTopRenegade:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

If you have a point, make it.

SuckTheseVols98 writes:

in response to AtlantaHawk:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Ya its a Tennessee site AtlantaHawk...Best of luck to ya Tyler! I wish we would have had you vs MSU this March but things dont always work out perfectly. Glad to see you made it back to Knoxville and especially glad to hear you received a warm reception. Go Vols!!!

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