By Kim Gardner
He’s polite, born and raised in Haywood County, and is an entrepreneur. But the 30-year-old has knocked on death’s door and lived to tell about it. Now, he’s putting his past troubles to use and sharing his story with hopes he may help save someone else’s life.
That’s what’s right with the world.
Smith lived with his mom until she married an abusive man, then moved in with his grandparents who became his refuge.
“I had a good home with my grandparents,” he said. “I thank the Lord they raised me the way they raised me.”
He attended Bethel Christian Academy and did some homeschooling, but he said his biggest education came through life’s school of hard knocks.
As Smith got older, he started to rebel. He started dating an older woman and picked up smoking cigarettes.
“I wanted to go out and do what I wanted,” he said. “I thought I could do more without an education.”
Landing a good job with a movie rental store company, Smith said it was then his life began to spiral out of control. He married a woman who worked for him and started using drugs.
“I married into drugs,” Smith said. “And when I started, I couldn’t control it.”
Smith started with cocaine, from which he overdosed several times but always lived to see another day and snort another line.
Soon after, he got in trouble with the law. His first run-in came during a traffic stop in Asheville that led to his arrest for drugs found in the car. From there, he continued down a slippery slope.
“It wasn’t long for this mess to accelerate,” Smith said. “I started selling to support my habit.”
From cocaine, Smith moved on to prescription pain pills. He connected with another user, and the two started writing fake prescriptions for money. Then, came his next run-in with police. Once out of jail, he went right back to the pills. This time Smith would buy pills and re-sell them. Although on probation, he managed to pass drug tests required by his parole officer.
“I faked it for my parole officer by using all the tricks in the book to pass these tests,” he said. “Then, it all fell apart.”
After missing appointments and drug tests with his parole officer, a judge extended his probation. He started stealing from family members- something he regrets- as things got progressively worse.
“I think back and I feel horrible,” Smith said. “When I got off probation, I learned how to make meth and sell it, until I started doing it.
“It was horrible and the worst thing in the world,” he continued. “You’re not the same person. It’s like you have no soul. I couldn’t care less about anything.”
Just when he thought it couldn’t get any worse, Smith hit rock bottom.He fled to Alabama for drugs, only to find himself in jail again. While in jail, Alabama law enforcement learned Smith had a warrant for rape in North Carolina. He spent about a year in jail between the two states, and finally had the rape charge dismissed in January this year.
Still, the best and worst were yet to come. During his time in an Alabama jail cell, Smith overdosed on heroin and blacked out for two days. That was a turning point.
I got up and vowed to do good, to do the opposite of what I had been doing,” Smith said. He lived to up to that vow and started Bible study and devotion classes with the help of the inmate who helped him recover from his overdose.
That was more than four years ago. Nearly five years into sobriety, Smith is leading Bible studies and devotional classes. He is also an entrepreneur, working toward a career in the antiques business. He credits his success to his relationship with God and the love and support of family.
He’s living proof that people do change.
“I was grateful my family let me come home,” Smith said. “You can’t prove it in jail (that you’ve reformed). You’ve got to do it different by actions.
Smith greets each new day with a fresh appreciation for life. “I have my own store and now have people who look up to me,” he continued. “I’m so grateful God let me live through all of this.”
Smith hopes his story will inspire other addicts to believe in a way out
“It’s all about being a friend,” he said. “I will go to talk with someone to try and help. I’ve been down that road, but I am not there anymore.”
It’s not an easy road. “(Sobriety) has been work and a struggle,” Smith said. “It’s hard work. It takes time and it’s on God’s time.”