Not all professional athletes and celebrities embrace the job of being a role model, but Chris Smith of the Cincinnati Bengals certainly does. He believes it’s his duty.
“Kids look at everything we do,” said the 26-year-old defensive end. “I feel that a big part of making the world a better place is helping our youth and showing them the right way to go.”
Smith is the founder of Chris’ Closet, a nonprofit organization for inner city youth. Smith said the mission is “to deliver transformative change to under-served youth in the Greater Charlotte area through key connections, programs, mentorship, scholarships and creative expression.”
Smith hosted an exclusive, invitation-only event in March at Kanvas Gallery, a popular bar and lounge in Charlotte, N.C. to celebrate the launch of Chris’ Closet. It was a star-studded affair as many of Smith’s closest celebrity friends and colleagues came to show support. Aaron Colvin and Jalen Ramsey of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Javon Hargrave of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Duchess Lattimore of VH1’s Black Ink Crew and retired NBA player Jeff McInnis were just a few of those who graced the red carpet. Smith’s family, including parents William and Sherry Smith and one of his seventh-grade teachers were also in attendance.
The event was produced by DeAndra Alex of Lifestyle for the Culture PR. Guests enjoyed an open bar and sipped craft cocktails while dining on passed hors devours. The menu included shrimp cocktail, crab cakes and other delicious fare.
Smith’s vision for his nonprofit is to help youth overcome adversity and forge a pathway for success in high school and beyond. He is dedicated to helping children in the Greater Charlotte area and near his hometown Mount Ulla, N.C. by creating opportunities to expose them to various career options, particularly in the areas of fashion, arts and design.
Smith said fashion will play a vital role because he believes the way people present themselves has power. It’s a lesson he learned from his mother, who taught him that the way he dressed is the way he wants to be addressed.
Smith hopes to make his mark in the fashion industry and has plans of launching a clothing line in the future. A portion of the proceeds will be go towards supporting his nonprofit.
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Cleveland Browns’ Chris Smith hosts exclusive event to celebrate launch of Chris’ Closet, a nonprofit for inner city youth