Warren Smith, star senior defensive back and receiver for North Coast Section champion El Cerrito High, is also a 4.0 student and has signed with Washington State University. But perhaps Smith’s greatest achievement has been overcoming immense adversity.
On Thursday, the West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) paid tribute to the remarkable student-athlete on social media. Last fall, Smith was named a U.S. Bank Inspirational Athlete by NBC’s 49ers Cal-Hi Sports. In an interview, the teen shared his difficult journey that included the deaths of three brothers and a cousin to gun violence in the span of just over a decade, along the with passing of his nephew.
Smith’s father was incarcerated when he was a young child, but was released when he was 10 years old and has worked to guide his son on the right path. Smith describes his mother as his consistent rock who “made sure I was growing up to be a respectful man.” According to his coach, that’s exactly what Smith has become.
“He’s coachable and he’s approachable and he’s wiling to learn,” Head Football Coach Jacob Rincon told Cal-HI Sports. “And I think that makes it really really easy as a coach, to get somebody like that.”
Smith credits Coach for helping to reinforce the importance of doing your best in the classroom as well as on the field.
While what he’s overcome may appear insurmountable to some, Smith said tragedy has played a role in his success.
“Ultimately I just use that as fuel,” he said.
In addition to Washington State, Warren received 14 acceptance letters from schools, including Yale, UCLA, and UC Berkeley, according to WCCUSD.