ATLANTA -- When Will Smith awoke on the morning of March 25 and learned his hometown of Newnan, Ga., had been devastated by a tornado, he was thankful his parents were visiting him at Spring Training. He found further relief after calling his sister, friends and other family members, all of whom had made it through the storm.
But Smith felt great concern as he learned about the destruction caused by the storm. Homes, businesses and Newnan High School were all severely impacted. The Braves closer knew he needed to do something and immediately teamed with the Braves and his teammates to aid his hometown.
“We make a lot of money to play a kids’ game,” Smith said. “It feels good to be able to give back whenever possible.”
Smith’s tornado relief efforts highlighted the resume that earned him the honor of being the Braves’ Roberto Clemente Award nominee this year. Every MLB club has a nominee. Fans can now vote for the winner, who will be recognized during the World Series.
“Just to be mentioned in the same sentence as Roberto Clemente is a huge honor,” Smith said. “I truly appreciate being nominated for such a great award.”
Smith traveled about 45 minutes south of Truist Park during a recent off-day and saw that he and his wife’s favorite pizza shop was among those businesses that have not re-opened since being affected by the storm. But he hasn’t yet had a chance to see the Newnan High School baseball field and locker rooms, which were both fixed with assistance from the financial contributions he and his Braves teammates made.
This was the high school his parents and other family members had attended. So, it certainly brought his mom and dad joy to see their son aid in these specific relief efforts.
Smith also made a $38,000 donation to the Coweta Community Foundation and Backpack Buddies of Georgia. These grants have provided ongoing funding for hotel accommodations and long-term housing solutions for dislocated disaster victims, youth programs for children affected by the tornado, food and family support programs and more.
Smith has also been involved with local animal shelters and helping with homeless pet adoptions.