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Lovejoy multi-sport athlete scores big at state meet and with music

By Rory Sharrock

rsharrock@news-daily.com

Sports and music have always shared a symbiotic relationship.

Watching an athlete in motion is like hearing a symphony orchestra or jazz ensemble as each step echoes out a rhythmic sound of championship harmony.

For Lovejoy sophomore David Smith II (D.J.), his athleticism and musical skills have combined to produce a platinum-selling hit that is second to none in Clayton County as well as statewide.

Smith celebrated his 16th birthday on May 2, but he received his present one week later after taking the gold medal in the high jump with a leap of seven feet at the Georgia Track & Field Championship at Jefferson High School.

This towering jump, which also earned him a medal for the best performer at the state Olympics, was four inches better than his closest competitor and gave his team 10 points during the meet.

"It felt real good. Many people don't jump over seven feet and this is something I was proud to be able to do," said Smith.

"On my first two attempts, I messed up, but on my last chance I got it. At first, I couldn't believe that I won. It was a wonderful feeling. The competition was fierce, but I strived hard enough to be No. 1."

Smith's skills also ranked him atop the standings at the regional meet in April at Baldwin County High School, where he cleared 6-10.

Along with dominating the high jump event this past season, he played above the rim as a key member of the Lovejoy Wildcats basketball squad.

Despite being a sophomore, Smith, who threw down his first dunk as a 12-year-old, showed a skill set beyond his grade level and was named the team's most valuable player for the 2007-08 campaign.

However, while he's excelled in the high jump and in basketball, his favorite sport is football.

Smith uses his sensational leaping abilities to snatch passes out the air as a wide receiver and defensive back for coach Al Hughes' varsity Wildcats.

"When you have a kid that can jump seven feet in the air, we're gone play him at free safety," said Hughes.

"We're really excited about the potential he brings. He's also a wide receiver, so we can run him down the field and just throw the ball up for him to get it."

While he's established a solid reputation for his superior athletic talents, he also is a gifted singer who has poured out his vocals during pregame ceremonies, singing the national anthem in front of a packed house at the Georgia Dome and Philips Arena.

Prior to moving to Clayton County in 2007, Smith's family lived in anonymity in Warner Robins, but after blowing away the crowd at the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in Macon with his rendition of Jamie Foxx's beautiful wedding ballad 'The Day I Married my Angel ', his talents were no longer an in-house secret and soon everyone knew his name.

His passion for music is on par with his love for sports and he attributes his style to legendary performers such as Ray Charles, The Temptations, Stevie Wonder, Anita Baker, Michael Jackson, New Edition and Bel Biv DeVoe.

"It's not really the music I listen to, it's the vocals, sound and rhythm. I can read music and I'm working on playing the piano," he said.

Although he is a gifted athlete and singer, his greatest skills are displayed in the classroom. Smith partakes in multiple college prep courses while maintaining a 3.7 grade point average.

In this controversial climate associated with the Clayton County School System, he's a beacon of hope providing further proof that the community is full of bright students with limitless potential.

"It motivates me to push myself harder to become the best that I can be," he said. "By doing this, future students will know even if you have a problem at the school, you can still strive to do your best and you will be seen. I just want to do the best that I can because I was taught to never quit."

Along with making his classmates, teammates and coaches proud of his accomplishments, perhaps his biggest fan is his mother Sonja Sanchez, who serves as an public information officer for the Clayton County Police Department.

"I'm very proud of D.J. He's a wonderful kid. He's very grounded and focused," said Sanchez. "He's very energetic and power-driven. I'm just overwhelmed. I've been bragging to everybody. It's just a blessing and God is good."