Former Falcons RB Ito Smith keeps promise to grandmother by learning to swim


Former Atlanta Falcons running back Ito Smith promised his grandmother he’d learn to swim if she quit smoking. After she kept her side of the bargain, the 25-year-old free agent decided it was time to hold up his end. “I tried to push this seven years,” Smith told CBS 42. “She stopped smoking. I pushed it off and I was like, ‘Hey, I have to keep my word.’”

Smith, who totaled 343 yards from scrimmage (268 rushing, 75 receiving) out of the Falcons’ backfield this past season, signed up for classes in Atlanta, learning alongside 7-12-year-olds at his local YMCA (which must have looked a lot like karate novice Kramer dominating the dojo on Seinfeld). Seeing Smith do laps in the pool even inspired one of his cousins to give swimming a try.

Smith, whose nickname derives from Los Angeles judge Lance Ito (best known for presiding over O.J. Simpson’s murder trial in 1995), was waived by the Falcons last month, ending his three-year tenure with the team. The Mobile, Alabama native has appeared in 35 NFL games since arriving as a fourth-round draft pick in 2018, delivering 1,003 yards (689 rushing, 314 receiving) and six touchdowns over that span.

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