Otis Smith Kids Foundation endows a JU athletic scholarship

Nov. 26, 2007

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Otis Smith Kids Foundation is donating $50,000 to the Jacksonville University athletics department to establish and endow the Otis Smith Scholarship to a deserving local student-athlete.

The scholarship will be awarded annually to a JU student-athlete that embodies all of the characteristics that Otis Smith exudes. The recipient has to be a native of Jacksonville, display great character, community service and hard work in the classroom.

"The Otis Smith Kids Foundation is excited to partner with Jacksonville University to provide scholarships for deserving local student-athletes," said Bonnie Upright, Executive Director of the Foundation. "Education has always been, and continues to be, the core of our mission, and the Otis Smith Scholarship will ensure that this priority is met for many years to come."

JU will honor Smith, his family and the Foundation's board of directors at halftime of the men's basketball game Wednesday night against Georgia State. In addition, Mayor John Peyton has officially declared Wednesday, November 28th, Otis Smith Day in the city of Jacksonville.

"We are so appreciative of this donation from Otis and the Otis Smith Foundation," said JU director of athletics Alan Verlander. "The Foundation has done so much for the Jacksonville community and this scholarship will enable JU student-athletes an opportunity to excel academically and athletically."

Smith, the general manager of the NBA's Orlando Magic, was a graduate of Forrest High School in Jacksonville and became a two-time All-America selection during his career at JU from 1982-86. His final season saw him lead the Dolphins to the 1986 Sun Belt Conference tournament title and an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Following his collegiate career, Smith broke into the NBA and played in 375 games - including his three most notable seasons with Magic. After hanging up his sneakers, Smith moved into the front office and worked his way up, being named general manager of the franchise last year.

A native of Jacksonville, Smith created the Otis Smith Foundation in 1989 to help underprivileged children in his hometown. Since its inception, the Foundation has made a positive impact on more than 10,000 children.

Smith, who is traveling with the Magic, is also expected to make a surprise announcement during the halftime ceremony while he discusses the gift to the University.