Torrey Smith's inspiring Sunday night performance
Smith was like a father to his six younger siblings, raising them from a young age. When he was six years old, his mother attended community college while working two jobs to support her children, and Torrey took on the responsibilities of changing diapers, doing laundry, and preparing food for his family. While many would consider Torrey's actions to be outstanding, he is humble about all that he has done. "For every one of me, there are a million people in my situation," Smith said. He noted that there are a million other situations where "a kid has to help his family - make a decision whether to be positive or turn his back and go the wrong way."
Smith's loss of his brother is almost like a father's loss of his son. Smith didn't just grow up with Tevin - he helped raise him. To focus on a football game so soon after hearing such tragic news would be an exceptional feat for even the toughest of minds.
However, on just an hour of sleep, Torrey Smith showed up for the Ravens' pregame warmups and told the team that he was ready for the game. "It was tough. I didn't know until 4 o'clock if I was going to play," Smith said. "Emotionally, I didn't know how I was going to hold up."
After suiting up and hearing a moment of silence for his lost brother, Smith held up just fine. He made a 25 yard touchdown catch off of a great double move early in the second quarter to get the Ravens back in business after going down 13-0, after which he pointed to the sky for Tevin.
Smith often appeared stoic on the sidelines, and his mind seemed to be elsewhere as he sat on the bench, understandably so. However, when he took the field, he was all football. He notched his second score of the day on a beautiful touchdown catch with 4:01 remaining in the game, a clutch play that cut the lead to two for the Ravens. After forcing the Patriots to punt, the Ravens were able to drive down the field and squeeze a field goal just inside the right upright for the one point victory.
The win was huge for the Ravens, as they topped one of the AFC's heavy favorites, but the players and coaches knew that this game was more about Torrey Smith and his emotional burden. "I am not talking about winning and losing," head coach John Harbaugh said after the game. "I am talking about what you see people accomplish in the face of adversity. That's really what it's all about."
Quarterback Joe Flacco, who was thrilled to have his most lethal receiving option on the field, noted how the team was playing for Smith, saying, "We all wanted to rally around him and go get a win for him."
Smith finished with six catches for 127 yards and two touchdowns, all of which is even more impressive when you consider the hurdles this young man had to face. Smith's performance wasn't inspiring in the same sense as Willis Reed or Kurt Gibson - it was on an entirely different level. Plenty of people can fight through physical pain, but to fight through excruciating emotional distress less than 24 hours after hearing tragic news, and to perform at an elite level - that's truly inspiring.
"It means a lot - not just for us, but for my family," Smith said of the Ravens' victory. "That's for my little brother."