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Meet Jabari Smith of The Professional Athlete

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jabari Smith.

Jabari, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I am a former collegiate athlete. I attended Texas Tech University and had high aspirations of going to the NFL. Yet, my athletic career did not develop in the NFL, I did play professional football in the arena league. I found it very complicated to transition once my athletic career was over.

I grew up with the notion that I would always play sports. I undoubtedly believed that my talent would continue to guide me through recognition and rich opportunities, and lead me through life to my dream profession as an NFL player.

As I look back and reflect on my life, I can vividly recall myself in high school and college when many professors would ask me to think about my long-term career goals. I refused because never once did it cross my mind that I would not reach my ultimate goal with football. When I realized that the fulfillment of that dream of playing professional football was slowly fading away, reality set in. I knew that I had to pick a different profession and another means to become successful.

Lost, as well as frustrated, I did not know how to market myself as anything other than an athlete and found it complicated to transition psychologically and invest my time and energy into something new. The late and emergent realization of having to shift my dream and gain all new experience hit me like a ton of bricks. I had lost all future hope. I did not know how, where, and when to start. Although I had graduated from college, I still did not know what I had to offer to society besides my athleticism.

This was the first time in my life that I felt like a failure even though I overcame many challenges up to this point. Not reaching my final goal, which was making it all the way to the NFL, meant overall failure in my eyes. When I finally decided to put the cleats up for good. I remember coming back home to live with my parents in the same house, in the same neighborhood, and with the same amount of money in my pocket that I had when I went away to school.

I remember thinking, ‘how did I end up back here in this very same position that I was in before I left?’ This was not how it was supposed to go down. This was not a part of the plan. The plan was for me to go to college, graduate, get drafted into the NFL, make millions of dollars, move my family to a safe suburban neighborhood, get married, and start my own family. I figured I would have the resources to make smart investments with my money, retire, and spend the rest of my time giving back to my community.

From my perspective, this plan seemed ideal, realistic, and somewhat promising, especially considering I had already beaten the odds by going to college and graduating.

It took me six years to fully understand that the lens with which I viewed my success was clouded by my inability to think beyond my athletic gifts. I had a major self-identity problem! I had identified myself as Jabari Smith the athlete and only measured my success based on the accomplishments an athlete can achieve in the arena of sports.

As a result of this limited thinking, my identity was not developed from a solid foundation. It was a fabrication of results that were led by fantasies and unrealistic expectations. What I had failed to understand was that everything I had experienced and accomplished leading up to this point was a success within itself; therefore my success was not defined by my achieving the goal of becoming a professional athlete, but was more so defined in the character building process that led me to this point. If that explanation did not resonate with you, then I urge you to continue reading this book.

My life purpose is to share information and guidance that will allow people to achieve the things they want out of life. I made it my sole purpose to figure out how I got to this point and why I felt the way I did about life, sports, and success. I soon discovered that I was not the only ex-athlete who has experienced psychological suffering and confusion after their athletic journeys were over, whether they ended in high school, college, or professional sports.

Jabari K. Smith, author, mentor, entrepreneur, and athlete. Jabari’s professional experience has comprised 6 years of working with student-athletes. He is the author of Life’s Playbook: 11 Plays to Success; a blueprint originally written for student-athletes on ‘how to become successful in life by using Sports principles’. In 2016, Jabari released the 2nd edition of Life’s Playbook revised and updated. Jabari learned that the impact of the principles identified in the playbook was universal and adapted by not only student-athletes but other industries. Non-sport related youth groups, women’s groups and individuals and professionals from all walks of life, to name a few.

Today I’m the creator and host of The Professional Athlete. The Professional Athlete Is a platform that defines the mindset of strong-willed, ambitious individuals who understand and appreciate the discipline, commitment and work ethic that all athletes encompass. Our mission is to share with the world that sports principles are transferable life skills.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Consent setbacks and transitions.

The Professional Athlete – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
The Professional Athlete defines the mindset of strong-willed, ambitious individuals who understand and appreciate the discipline, commitment and work ethic that all athletes encompass. Our mission is to share with the world that sports principles are transferable life skills.

The Professional Athlete is a podcast of interviews and stories shared by athletes inside and outside the arena of sports. Guests will impart their knowledge and experiences in athletics and business, to share with the world that sports principles are transferable life skills, and explain how they were able to navigate the process of being a successful athlete to simply being successful.

Consider this your all-access pass to the locker room of life, your own copy of life’s playbook. This is your literal G.P.S. (Game Plan for Success). This is The Professional Athlete.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
I don’t have one yet.

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