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J.R. Smith Youth Foundation's Seventh Annual Golf Classic

by Photo of Scott Davis

J.R. Smith and Knicks brass gathered in Lakewood, NJ for a golf outing to support Smith’s charity.

J.R. Smith Youth Foundation's Seventh Annual Golf Classic

In this article…

The J.R. Smith Youth Foundation, a charity run by the New York Knicks' J.R. Smith that provides help to less-fortunate children trying to make it through school, had its 7th annual golf classic in Lakewood, New Jersey on Thursday. The event was held at Eagle Ridge Golf Club and drew out a large crowd looking to support the Foundation and play some golf. Despite some temperamental weather a good crowd showed up alongside Smith, his brother, Chris; his father, Earl; several other family members; and Knicks brass like Herb Williams, Jim Todd, Darryl Walker, and Allan Houston.

When Smith arrived, casually, walking up to the front driveway where media members awaited, he greeted several family members and members of his foundation before jumping into a media session Q&A. Smith discussed his rehab from knee surgery this offseason, his free agent process -- "I wanted to be a Knick. I still want to be a Knick until I retire so it wasn't really a long drawn-out process" -- the Knicks' offseason acquisitions, and how the Knicks stack up to the improved Eastern Conference. Smith gave other improved teams like the Nets their due diligence, but stated he thinks the Knicks are still the "marquee" team in New York and can challenge any other of the top teams.

After his media session, Smith spread himself around the Eagle Ridge clubhouse and outdoor patio where the team members and guests alike helped themselves to a buffet and hot grill. The event was remarkably open as fans approached Smith and the coaches, asking for autographs, pictures, and making some general, friendly conversation.

As tee time approached, the event became a bit more spread out. Tons of golf carts filled up as attendees took them out onto the back nine to begin the competition. The Knicks assistant coaches began at the tenth hole and gradually made their way through the course, boasting some clearly practiced swings, surely acquired with the offseason's free time. Smith wasn't allowed to play -- at his doctor's request -- because of his recovering knee, so he followed closely behind, rooting on Allan Houston's "Tiger game" and giving his young daughter some golf pointers.

I didn't get to see who won the coaches' tournament, but Chris Smith told me beforehand he believed Houston had the best shot. When I asked Jim Todd about who would win, he simply told me "the coaches team!"

Dodgy weather drove other attendees and me in, but overall it was a pleasant event that weather couldn't ruin. Betty Smith, J.R.'s aunt, who helps run the Foundation and organize the event said, "Each step of the way you get a little better and a little better. This is really a great event."

Fellow golfers echoed the same sentiments. On the course, a group of four, a father and some young men, attending the event for the first time called it "an awesome time." With a long, rigorous NBA season, it can be easy to forget that players have lives off the court. Events like Smith's golf classics are a friendly reminder that these athletes and teams have lots more going on besides basketball, and it's great to see them giving back to the community.

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