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Smith Speaks at TOBA’s MLK Breakfast

Posted Jan 20, 2014

Making his first public appearance since being named the Bucs’ new head coach, Lovie Smith shared his thoughts at the Tampa Organization of Black Affairs Martin Luther King, Jr. Breakfast on Monday

  • In his first community appearance since taking over as the Bucs' Head Coach, Lovie Smith spoke at TOBA's MLK breakfast on Monday
  • Smith grew up in a small town but was taught early to dream big
  • Previously head coach of the Bears, Smith and Tony Dungy became the first black coaches to lead their teams to the Super Bowl in 2006
Lovie Smith grew up in a small town in Texas and graduated from high school among a class of just 34.  But he never thought small.  For that, Smith can thank his mother, Mae.

“I had a mother that told me to dream early on,” Smith told a packed ballroom at a downtown Tampa hotel on Monday morning.  “She told me to eliminating the word ‘can’t’ from my vocabulary, that I could do anything I wanted to do.  I started dreaming early.”

Smith has realized his biggest dreams, most recently when he was named the new head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  For that he can also thank Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Smith’s mother told him to dream; King helped create a society where he could thrive.

Monday’s hotel gathering – on the occasion of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day – was the 34th Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership Breakfast conducted by the Tampa Organization of Black Affairs (TOBA).  Following a long line of distinguished speakers, Smith was a surprise guest.  The Buccaneers’ new leader had accepted an invitation from TOBA just last week and was making his first public appearance in the Bay area since taking over the Bucs’ reins.

TOBA happily stages its annual breakfast very early in the morning (6:45 a.m. ), on what is a day off for many, in a very busy week at One Buccaneer Place that includes preparations for the Senior Bowl.  Smith did not hesitate to attend the event, however, seeking both to make a connection with the Bay area community and to honor one of America’s most important and influential figures.

“The sacrifices of people like Dr. King put me in a position that I’m in today,” said Smith, who in 2006 joined Tony Dungy as the first black head coaches to lead their teams to the Super Bowl. “It’s only fitting that I was able to be here today.  I’ve benefitted so much from what he started.  I’m living proof of his words – that we can be judged by the content of our character.”

- Buccaneers Head Coach Lovie Smith told the TOBA breakfast crowd that his team would be "relentless" in the pursuit of a championship
In a crisply run and upbeat program, local and state dignitaries such as Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, U.S. Representative Kathy Castor and Florida State Senator Arthenia Joyner shared brief messages on such topics as education, wage equality, voter turnout and community unit.  Buckhorn was particularly passionate, recalling the scene of a shooting he had visited the day before and concluding by vowing that the Bay area community, “is not going to let anyone divide us.”

Smith took the podium last and was greeted with a standing ovation.  In addition to sharing his thoughts on Dr. King and the local community, Smith also asked those in attendance to get behind the Buccaneers again, saying the words the crowd wanted to hear:

“We will be relentless in our pursuit of bringing the Super Bowl trophy back to Tampa.”