Ds Scholarship

SAIT to honour slain basketball star in memorial game, scholarship

On Wednesday, Smith’s former teammates, coaches, classmates, friends and family will gather at his home court for a game held in his honor

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The Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) Trojans are hosting a memorial game to honor former basketball star and business student John Smith Jr. and raise money for a scholarship in his name following his tragic death in October.

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Smith died early in the morning of Oct. 10, 2021, as he was leaving a Calgary nightclub with his girlfriend and another female friend. As two men standing outside the club began to harass the women, Smith stepped in. A fight broke out and one of the men pulled a gun and shot Smith. He died from his injuries in hospital. He was 31 years old.

Smith moved to Calgary from Lacey, Wash., in 2016 to play guard for the Trojans’ basketball team. He was always among the team’s top scorers and was a one-time MVP.

Those closest to Smith remember him as an incredible athlete and protector who always made people laugh and brought joy to those around him. He had planned to return to SAIT this school year to finish his business administration degree and play his final season with the team.

On Wednesday, Smith’s former teammates, coaches, classmates, friends and family will gather at his home court for a game held in his honor.

“He’s left a lasting impression on all of us — not only the team, us coaches, but also the community,” said Trojans assistant coach Pat Boulin. “On Wednesday, you’ll be able to see the amount of people that he impacted while he was here.”

In a Facebook post, the team said Smith’s “absence from the Trojans community on and off the court has been significant.”

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The Trojans will play host to St. Mary’s University Wednesday in one of their final games of the season. Admission to the game is free but the team is crowdfunding for a $20,000 endowment award, dubbed The John M. Smith Jr. Memorial Equity & Diversity Award, to ensure Smith’s legacy exists at the school in perpetuity.

“This is another way for us to impact the community, for him to impact the community and leave a lasting impression,” said Boulin.

Tip-off for the game is 7 pm Wednesday. The game will also be broadcast on Telus Optik TV channel 1998 and streamed live on acactv.ca.

Jesse Michael Martinez, 35, was charged with second-degree murder in Smith’s death. He turned himself in to police 11 days after the shooting, following a Canada-wide warrant for his arrest.


Twitter: @Michaelrdrguez

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