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Smith honored in local publication


Since his introduction with the Texans as the youngest general manager in the NFL in 2006, Rick Smith has become increasingly involved in the greater community of Houston.

All it takes is a glance at the Texans' media guide to know that general manager Rick Smith has a knack for making a quick impression on those around him.

He was the youngest position coach in the Big Ten Conference at Purdue at the age of 24, then hired by the Denver Broncos in 1996 after only two years at the college level. In June 2006, the Texans named Smith the youngest general manager in the NFL at 36 years old.

It should come as no surprise, then, that Smith quickly has become a respected figure in Houston, though he and his wife, Tiffany, have lived here for less than two full years. Smith recently was honored in the Second Edition of the "Who's Who in Black Houston" publication, which highlights the achievements of African-Americans who live and work in the Bayou City.

One of only four African-Americans to head an NFL personnel department, Smith is among 490 of Houston's finest leaders and prominent figures to be honored in the publication.

"It's an honor and it's something that I'm very proud of and very appreciative of," Smith said. "One of the things that I really, really enjoy about the city of Houston is the fact that it is such a diverse city, and not only diverse in a sense of black and white, but just internationally diverse.

"There are just so many different cultures and different ethnic groups and nationalities and people that you can associate yourself with and befriend and enjoy acquaintances, and that's something that I really didn't know that was here. But now that I've been here, that's one of the things that I really enjoy about the city."

The 2008 "Who's Who in Black Houston" publication was unveiled at a March 20 reception at the InterContinental Hotel, where Smith had a chance to mingle with many of Houston's most prominent figures, including real estate mogul Linda Lorelle and gospel music icon Yolanda Adams.

{QUOTE}Smith was particularly struck by the charisma of City of Houston chief administrative officer Anthony W. Hall, Jr., who wrote the foreword to the book, and The Rev. William A. Lawson of historical Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church, who was honored at the banquet.

"I was very, very impressed with Mr. Hall, as well as it was an honor to meet the Pastor," Smith said. "(Hall), his speech and his foreword were very inspirational. He seemed like a very successful, intelligent guy and a good representative of the city."

As a general manager, Smith works closely with the Texans' coaching and scouting staffs to build a winning roster via free agency and the annual college draft.

As a Houston resident, Smith is intent on working closely with his wife and two children (son, Robert, and recently born daughter, Avery) to build a strong and lasting relationship with their surrounding community through increased involvement in charitable causes.

"We're starting as a family to feel our way and we definitely want to immerse ourselves in the community," he said. "We wanted to have two kids; we've got two kids now. We're going to find an organization, a charity or two, to really get involved in."

Smith already has participated in various causes when his busy schedule has permitted, including a charity walk for the Festari Celebrity Men's Fashion Show last year and a recent dinner with Lorelle for her foundation. He also has been involved with his son's school and in various charities through the Texans.

With his family now complete, Smith's next personal agenda item is branching out even further into the community.

"We've been involved in the community, but certainly want to continue to do that and really want to find our own niche and what speaks to our heart and really get involved in that," he said.

"It's important because, first of all, I think to whom much is given, much is required. I think it's an obligation that you get connected with your city and establish roots and give back, and I think that that is something that has to be a part of what I want my son to understand about being a man. So that's something that, as a family, we feel like that's important and I think that you have to do that.

"Charity begins at home. You've got to teach your kids that, and I think that when you do that, you just become a much more well-rounded person. We've been blessed, and so I think we ought to give back."

Smith has countless role models of his own. When it comes to charity, though, one person stands out.

"The best example is our owner," he said of Texans founder Bob McNair. "I mean, I've only known this guy now for a couple of years, but Bob McNair is just a hell of an example as it relates to philanthropic endeavors and giving and charity. He and Janice, what they do for this community and the pride that they have in the city of Houston and this community, it's admirable and it's contagious. So we certainly want to continue to be a part of that."

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