After a major victory against a rival high school, football fans were confused when one of their white players approached a black opponent. However, cameras were there to capture the moment, sparking a discussion about race relations in America.
In one of the most anticipated football games of the year, Sherman High School rumbled against West Mesquite in a tense Friday clash. Incredibly, Sherman pulled off a massive win, beating their rival team 56-27. As fans and players cleared the stadium, the few who stayed behind witnessed a brief encounter initiated by Gage Smith.
As a senior and team leader, there’s hardly a game upon which Smith doesn’t surprise both the crowd and his teammates. So, after several key plays during Friday night’s intense match, the football stud proved that he wasn’t finished leaving his mark.
Instead of joining his teammates in the locker room, Smith remained behind on the field with one final mission. In an unexpected move, the senior athlete approached opposing player Ty Jordan to discuss something other than football. Fortunately, the coach’s wife was there to capture the moment.
Without hesitation, Smith approached his rival after the game, revealing that he wanted to pray with Jordan for his mother, who has been battling cancer. As fans and peers abandoned the field, Smith clasped hands and bowed his head with his opponent in humble prayer for Jordan’s mom.
Sherman’s head football coach J.D. Martinez confirmed that his wife just happened to be a few feet away during the heartwarming moment, capturing each move on her camera, according to KXII. It was after their private prayer session that Smith confirmed what the pair were doing.
“I just had a moment with him praying over him, his mom, and his family,” Smith said.
Smith explained that he knows Jordan from a select 7-on-7 team for which they were both chosen. After getting to know his temporary teammates, Smith says that he heard about Jordan’s mother’s struggle. It was only when the two reunited on the field that Smith was able to seize the opportunity to pray with Jordan.
“When you’re playing the game, you’re playing to win and the other team is the enemy, but afterwards you still have respect for the other opponent,” Smith said.
Jordan’s aunt, Takka Jordan, later posted the photos on Facebook, expressing just how much Smith’s actions impacted their family. Within days, the post went viral with over 150,000 shares and thousands of comments lauding the teen for setting aside a sports rivalry to show compassion.
“To see that it blew up I was very surprised by it, and I wasn’t expecting it to be like that you know, I was just doing it for him and doing it for his mom and his family,” Smith said.
Of course, Coach Martinez swelled with pride over Smith’s act of kindness. He explained that, while Smith proves his leadership skills on the field, he’s no different when he takes off the uniform.
“He’s a true leader, and he has compassion, and it followed through for a lot of the guys on the team,” Martinez said. “It’s pretty special that kind of everybody gets to see really what he is, he’s that type of kid all the time, it’s just not in front of the cameras or anything like that, he’s like that every day.”
Of course, Smith isn’t letting the newfound glory go to his head. In fact, he reiterated that playing sports is a great way to unite people who would otherwise believe they have little in common.
“Football brings people together in so many different ways, and that was just one example of it that night,” Smith said.
This simple act of kindness is exactly what our nation needs in response to the political and racial division we’re experiencing. If we can remember that we’re all human beings with struggles that each of us shares, it is much easier to unite and be civil to one another.