MENU
component-ddb-728x90-v1-01-desktop

Lady Braves basketball player an inspiration to all

The Cherokee Lady Braves basketball team is in a winning season. Jacee Smith, who is one of the team's most popular players, gets a lot of playing time and sinks a lot of baskets -- many from long range. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

The Cherokee Lady Braves basketball team is in a winning season. Jacee Smith, who is one of the team's most popular players, gets a lot of playing time and sinks a lot of baskets -- many from long range.

Smith's family has always taught her she can do anything she sets her mind to.

"We're so happy. We're so proud. I can't explain how happy I am for her. Whenever she gets out there, just the love of the game that she has for it," said her brother, Ray Smith, a standout football player for Swain County High School who went on to play quarterback at ECU and Western Carolina University.

They are inspirations to each other.

"I just want to be everything I can be just for her," Ray said of his sister, who has Down syndrome.

The Smith family is on hand every time Jacee takes the court. She loves everything about it.

"Teammates, fans. I love fans. I love coaches. The team cheers me," Jacee said.

Teammates like Shelby Wolfe are always in her corner.

"She always brings a lot of joy to the team," Wolfe said.

Jacee is met with cheers from opposing teams, too.

"Every team we've ever played here in the arena, we've had great support from the opposing fans," Cherokee High School principal Dr. Debora Foerst said.

Jacee scores often, and it matters.

"She can step back 3's. She can hit them," coach Chris Mintz said. "That's her favorite shot. She wants to be like Steph Curry."

Family support comes on the court, too, from little sister and teammate Naomi.

"Unexplainable," she said, "because like nobody else has the bond like me and her have."

Ray has that status, too, often cheering her on in the stands.

He said she likes to compete and win. But her example also speaks to something more durable about life than wins and losses.

"To see her teammates rush to her on the court after the game and after she's made a shot, it really is above the score," Foerst said.

"If she can get out there and do this stuff what do we have to complain about," Mintz asked.

There's joy on Jacee's face as she's playing ball, and it seems in life, too.

"She's one of the greatest things that ever happened to not only me but to our whole family," Ray said.

No doubt, she'll bring happiness and 3-pointers to future games.

Her father, Tim, asks her, "Are you going to win the championship?" Jacee's answer is a confident, "Yeah."

Jacee is a junior and will play for the Lady Braves next season, as well.

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off

Trending