DionRabouin.com (sort of)

Friends, family remember Bubba Smith at funeral

Posted in Articles by dionrabouin on October 14, 2011


(written for the Beaumont Enterprise)

Friends and loved ones gathered in Los Angeles on Thursday to pay their final respects to Bubba Smith, the nine-year NFL pro, television and film actor from Beaumont. He died in his home last week at the age of 66.

The funeral took place at 1 p.m. inside the Crenshaw Christian Center and many of those closest to Smith made the journey to say goodbye and reminisce about him. The opening prayer was delivered by Pastor Roosevelt Grier, the senior officiant at the Crenshaw Christian Center, where Smith attended church while living in L.A.

“I never thought I would be praying this prayer at this time for Bubba Smith,” said Grier. “I loved Bubba. He had everything working for him.”

Marcia Livingston, who was Smith’s caretaker and longtime friend, helped organize the funeral.

“It’s difficult because it was unexpected and everyone is grieving,” Livingston said about making the arrangements. “It’s hard work to do all that.”

During the service, speakers shared stories about Smith in front of the hundreds of guests who attended. Numerous flower bouquets lined the front of the church and a large picture of Smith sitting on his couch smiling greeted guests as they came into the church’s main room.

The funeral was not a somber affair, but instead one that celebrated the life and humor of the 6-foot-8 former No. 1 overall draft pick who was a friend, father figure and role model to many.

According to his family and friends, the scene at the funeral reflected Smith’s wit and grand sense of humor. Speeches from his friends, teammates and TV and movie co-stars often got big laughs from the crowd.

Ernie Pasteur, who played football with Smith at Michigan State from 1964-1966, spoke about how close the team was.

“We used to walk in packs and the girls would call us the wonder boys. We took advantage of that too,” Pasteur said jokingly. “We came from all over and we treated each other like family. It didn’t matter if you were black or white or Somalian.

“Everybody was a family and Bubba had one of the biggest laughs in the world.”

Pasteur also read prepared remarks from Michigan State University’s current president, Lou Anna K. Simpson, and current football coach, Mark Dantonio. Smith’s niece, Jamila Smith, and nephew, Dakota Smith, spoke as well.

Gene Washington, who played high school football against Smith, called him “without question, the best high school football player Texas ever produced.”

Toward the end of the service, Washington recited a few lines from a poem by Douglas Malloch titled, “Be the best of whatever you are.” He said it was a poem that former Spartans head coach Duffy Daugherty said to his players often and one that had special meaning to Smith’s life.

“If you can’t be a highway, then just be a trail. If you can’t be the sun, be a star. It isn’t by size that you win or you fail. Be the best of whatever you are,” Washington said. “Bubba was the best.”

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