There's a lot to like in the recent Daily News profile of Louisville's Russ Smith: An unmistakable product of New York, Smith was raised in East Williamsburg, coached in Queens by the late legend Jack Curran at Archbishop Molloy, played for an AAU team in the Bronx, and came out of the experience brazen, charming and hyper-talkative, with a style of play that mirrors his personality. More important, however, is that in the course of its interviews, the News found that Russdiculous may have learned his signature fearlessness from a childhood in which the occasional Tuesday Night Fight broke out next to him as he practiced dribbling, mid-afternoon.
The Daily News got its hands on a tape of young Russ made by his father, Big Russ, to promote Gauchos Gymnasium, in which a 10-year old Smith dribbles around Fredrick Douglass Boulevard until, well:
Craziness encircles the Smiths at times. The roots of the son’s unpredictability are evident on the same DVD that displays his innocent dribbling. It is footage recorded by his father, outside his barbershop in Harlem, on Frederick Douglass Blvd. There is a woman who shows up on the screen suddenly. She is fresh off a street fight when the man she was battling confronts her on camera. She fixes her hair weave, then takes a drag on a burning cigarette before grabbing an aluminum bat. She swings it wildly at the man before he grabs it and takes a cut at her. They are then separated and he throws the bat.
Among other ventures, Big Russ worked security for Trina, and his mother's only quote in the profile starts, "My son’s a hot mess." Try to get through the article without becoming a Russ Smith fan.
The paper excerpted some of the reels his father made, and while the scene described above inexplicably didn't make the cut, you can head over there to see a fourth-grade Russ Smith doing dribbling drills in his family's apartment better than most D-I players could do them today. If Louisville makes the national championship game, his downstairs neighbors deserve a shout-out from the podium.