Tony DeNiro

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Tony DeNiro (birth name Anthony D. Smith) is an American entrepreneur/advisor/record producer & premium content creator.

He has produced pop, rock, hip-hop, and R&B music. Known for producing and consulting career artists such as Sean "Diddy" Combs, Evan Ross, Fonzworth Bentley and Ashlee Simpson. Formerly the Senior Vice-President of A&R at Priority Records and personally hired by the companies owner Bryan Turner, DeNiro was the first minority music executive at the record label in 1996. DeNiro is also acknowledged for his work consulting and branding career artists such as Brandy, Missy Elliott, Ritchie Kotzen, Terrence Howard, The Game, Ben Harper, Sean Combs, and most recently Evan Ross, and Stacy Barthe. He currently serves as a consultant & advisor to several cutting edge technology companies.

He is also well known for his football career as All-American wide receiver of the University of Notre Dame's undefeated national championship football team coached by Lou Holtz (1988–1992).

College Football[edit]

All major Division 1 colleges recruited DeNiro to play football. He committed to the University of Michigan under the helm of Bo Schembechler and changed his mind the day before signing to attend the University of Notre Dame on a full-football scholarship under head coach Lou Holtz. Freshman year Tony & the Fighting Irish had an undefeated season and won the 1988 College Football National Championships with their win over West Virginia at the Fiesta Bowl. During the off-season freshman year, Tony hosted pre-frosh Jerome Bettis and toured him around Notre Dame campus. His efforts successfully recruited Bettis to attend the University of Notre Dame and play football for the Fighting Irish. Determined to over-achieve, DeNiro was named All-American Wide Receiver both his Junior and Senior years at Notre Dame while he simultaneously made the dean’s list every semester and graduated in 3.5 years.

DeNiro broke his wrist during the 1991 Notre dame vs. Naval Academy game played in the snow. Coach, Lou Holtz, insisted that he taped his wrist and continued to play. Tony comments on Holtz, "He told me there was a difference between being hurt and being injured, and that I was just hurt." That week DeNiro had surgery on his wrist and played two weeks later in the Notre Dame Vs. University of Hawaii game in Hawaii. He continued to play in the Sugar Bowl at New Orleans vs. The University of Florida and flew to Japan the following day to play in the Japan bowl (All-Star game for seniors). Although his wrist was still broken, team doctors advised DeNiro that his wrist was fine.

DeNiro spent his last semester at The University of Notre dame volunteering to work at the local Safeway Station, where he counseled & mentored underprivileged, abused, runaway children and waited for the NFL draft. In spring of 1992 DeNiro was drafted to the Kansas City Chiefs. He graduated in May 1992 with a degree in marketing and minor in psychology and sociology. Upon graduation DeNiro set the University of Notre dame Record for "Longest Touchdown Pass" from quarterback Rick Mirer. While at Notre Dame he was roommates and close friends with NFL stars, Todd Lyght & Ricky Watters.

NFL career[edit]

Once in Kansas City, the Chief's doctor informed DeNiro that his wrist was still broken. He never actually played in an NFL regular-season game.[1] DeNiro endured two more surgeries until finally the bone was removed and he was told that he could not play indefinitely. DeNiro's last season in the NFL was Joe Montana's 1st season with the KC Chiefs. He retired from the NFL to his residence in Los Angeles where he lived and rehabilitated his injury during off-season. During this time, to ease his mind off football, DeNiro focused on music while working owning an exotic car dealership, specializing in custom luxury cars for stars of Hollywood at the young age of 24.


Tony DeNiro started to play music for physical and emotional therapy after his career-ending injury in the NFL. His talents prove to go beyond producing music (guitar, bass, keyboards), song writing, and engineering sound. He signed a production deal with Priority Records (1995) and soon after became a music executive at Priority Records(1996). Formerly the Senior Vice-President of A&R at Priority Records (1996–1997), DeNiro resigned from his position of VP after having consulted Priority during Master P's-No Limit Records. He was offered a label deal with Priority and started Redeye Records (1997). He later had a production deal with Capitol Records (1999) and a production deal with Universal Records (2004) Most recently in April 2012 DeNiro developed & secured a record deal within a 4-month period of meeting new artist Smokey Jones who is currently signed to Island Def Jam Records.


DeNiro has appeared in multiple fashion campaigns for Versace and Dolce & Gabbana with photographers Mario Testino, Ellen Von Unwerth & Paulo Roversi. He is also documented for appearing in GQ’s Dolce & Gabbana story with Ophélie Winter. He has also served as consultant to many fashion houses which have been the pulse of pop culture ranging from urban street wear to high fashion couture.


Since 2004, he has been consulting Internet companies looking to transition to media and entertainment. DeNiro has been an early adaptor to new technology and social media, he is known as being one of the first 100 users on MySpace and part of Instagram's initial 5000 person invite-only launch. He has always supported creative entrepreneurs and is regarded a friend to many in the industry.


  1. ^ Tony Smith   (2014-01-04). "Tony Smith, WR at". Retrieved 2014-04-12.