His world was professional basketball, so it sounded like a basketball conscience. But it was also the voice of a husband and doting father. It was a voice you had to be behind the scenes to hear because Smith was an assistant coach, a lieutenant, for the most part unnoticed by the camera and the crowd. But it was a young voice, one with old-fashioned values, but fresh ideas about implementing them. It was a prepared voice, a strong, no-nonsense one. You would have grown to like it, to respect it in time because it was growing in stature and respect, except that we will never have that pleasure because Derek Smith is dead. At 34.
Smith's death -- the cause has not been determined -- is not a tragedy because he was a sports figure; it's a tragedy because he was a hard-working man with an incredibly bright future, a father with two young children. And it is a tragedy because in full life he was already a nice story, a man who had gone from young star, to injured backup, to treasured role player to a coach who had seen all points of the circle and could help guide the directionless young men who gravitated toward basketball.
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