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“If I’m asked for advice, I give it,” Smith said. “I give Alston as much as he can digest. One thing I don’t want to do is turn him off by day-in, day-out preaching to him.”

Smith’s father George, a construction worker, preached the importance of family, faith and education to his son. Smith honors his late father’s memory by providing scholarships for students from Queen Street Baptist Church as well as scholarships for Booker T. Washington graduates to attend Virginia Tech. Smith also arranged for a busload of students and chaperones from Norfolk to attend his Hall of Fame induction.

“Bruce was a really great football player, but I admire the way he lives his life more than the way I admire he played the game,” Hoffler said.

Said Zeke Avery, Smith’s basketball coach at Booker T. Washington: “Bruce is very passionate about helping his community and being a role model for kids.”

During Smith’s NFL career, he did the heavy lifting when Avery moved to a new home and paid for the award jackets, watches and clocks for the coach’s state championship basketball team.

“If I hadn’t done what I did on the football field, I wouldn’t have been afforded the opportunity to give back in such a fashion,” Smith said as he drove from the office where he spends about 15 hours a week to one of the golf courses where he does the same. “When I look at the young people around here, I see myself and I feel obligated to give back. I walked the same hallways, the same streets. I sat in the same classrooms and had to overcome the same adversities that they face.

To have them be a part of this [Hall of Fame] experience and witness firsthand the magnitude of what’s going to take place, I believe it should have a profound impact… on the direction and the choices they decide to make.”

Smith obviously made a poor choice when he was stopped for driving under the influence in Virginia Beach on May 15. After his July 9 conviction, the city canceled its tribute to its most famous resident. But Operation Smile, which provides cleft lip and palate repair surgeries for children worldwide, is going ahead with its Sept. 25 celebration of Smith.

Perry said his buddy is very shrewd and careful about his associates and decisions and is truly remorseful about his third DUI arrest. A 1997 conviction was later dismissed, and he was acquitted in a case six years ago.

“This human flesh… is full of faults,” Smith said. “That’s part of being human, part of living and learning. You learn a lot about people in the midst of adversity.

“I’m going to continue to believe in what got me to this point. And this point is extremely exciting, about to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It doesn’t get any better than that.”