Smith and Michael Jordan were childhood friends who played together on their ninth-grade basketball squad. In 1978, during their first year at Emsley A. Laney High School, both tried out for the lone sophomore opening on the varsity basketball team. Smith, who was 6'7" (2.01 m), was selected because of his height, while the 5'11" (1.80 m) Jordan was sent to the JV basketball team by coach Clifton "Pop”" Herring. Jordan trained extensively over the next year, grew four inches and was selected for the varsity team as a junior exhibiting extraordinary competitive passion.
In 1991, Jordan acknowledged the impact of the event, "It all started when Coach Herring cut me. What it did was instill some values in me. It was a lesson to me to dig within myself."  Jordan would check into hotels under the alias “Leroy Smith” throughout his professional basketball career.
Smith attended the University of North Carolina at Charlotte from 1981–1985, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology. He had a four-year basketball scholarship, playing at small forward and power forward positions for the Charlotte 49ers. In his senior year he captained the team and led the Sun Belt Conference in rebounds.
Professional sports career
Smith went on to play on various professional basketball teams including: the Hemel & Watford Royals of the Premier English Basketball League (1985–86), TuS Bramsche in the German Basketball League (1986–87) the Westchester Golden Apples of the United States Basketball League (summer of 1986), AST Tarrare in France (1987–88) and Kuma Gai Kumi of the Japan Basketball League (1988–90). In many instances, he led his team in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots.
After retiring from basketball, Smith worked for a sporting goods manufacturer before establishing himself in media and entertainment.
He is currently Vice President of sales and marketing for the TV Distribution group at NBC Universal and has been recognized as one of the most influential minorities in cable. Smith is also the CEO of entertainment media consulting company HLS Entertainment.
Smith is married with three children and resides in Rancho Cucamonga, California.
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