Robert Smith, son of Grammy-winning singer O.C. Smith, has experienced many different facets of life.
As a newborn infant, he was blinded in a life-saving incubator. At the age of seven, he moved with his mother from a plush life in Beverly Hills to the inner city of LA. He attended a school for the blind, was an actor, and, just a few years ago, was living in a housing project and receiving unemployment. He’s sung as part of a doo-wop group and lived in Vegas; he’s sung in front of crowds large and small. He’s been both overweight and fit.
Now, he lives in Long Beach. And you’d never guess his diverse array of experiences.
Upon meeting Smith for the first time, his gives a cheery hug; his upbeat demeanor emanating from beneath his dark sunglasses in the lobby of the Hyatt downtown.
Right now, Smith’s mission isn’t to merely survive. Right now, Smith’s on a mission to change the world, through a collage of positive acts and social entrepreneurship.
“Being here in Long Beach, I see there’s a demand for something...people across the world are crying out for help,” he said. Every deed he has sought to accomplish last year, he says, is meant to ease this sadness, something he’s felt deeply. Every project and action is meant to spread what he says makes the world go round: intentional kindness.
And how is Smith going about this, you ask?
First, there’s the campaign to pitch and sing the national anthem at every major and minor league baseball park in the country. His projects raise money for The American Foundation for the Blind, Lion’s Sight and Hearing Foundation of Southern California and Pitch in For Baseball (affiliated with Little League baseball). All of it is under the umbrella of the “Little Green Apples Project.”
“I have a mantra, as a blind man,” he said. “One act of kindness makes the world a better place. Anytime I feel sad, I remind myself of that.”
His latest venture involves an indiegogo campaign with four days left, aimed at raising money to go toward sending 10,000 Toss’n Towel games to veterans, deployed military and senior centers.
The Toss’n Towel game is Smith’s latest venture, involving a towel and bean-bags that can be tossed on targets in any location for a bit of recreational fun.
Smith’s adventures have carried him across the country, especially as the most unlikely of opening pitch throwers. He’s been up against what has been perceived as impossible, he said, but is motivated to push forward as a means of making the world a better place.
“There were times I still had depression and thought, why am I blind?” said Smith. “And I think it was a sign from God, that my blindness is not a curse. [...] Being blind is the greatest thing that could have happened. It’s given me an incentive to help.”