USC forward Evan Smith won’t give up hope of finding his missing father

Gavin Smith has always been a responsible, caring father, so the former UCLA basketball player's eldest son immediately knew something was wrong Wednesday afternoon when his dad started behaving out of character.

Evan Smith became uneasy when his younger brother called to say their dad never picked him up from school. He became even more worried when someone from Fox Studios notified the family Gavin hadn't shown up for work. And his panic level continued to rise that night the longer Gavin didn't answer his phone.

Six days have now passed since Evan's father went missing, but the USC forward refuses to give up hope that his dad will turn up safe. Gavin Smith, 57, was last seen Tuesday night driving a black 2000 Mercedes 420 in his neighborhood about 30 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

"This is like a bad movie," Evan Smith said Monday. "It's surreal. Nobody ever would think it would be my dad who would go missing. But my family is staying strong, staying together. We're just trying to weather the storm and find my dad."

Authorities so far haven't discovered any leads in Gavin Smith's disappearance, so family members are doing whatever they can to help. They've hired private detectives, tracked Gavin's credit card usage, put up fliers with his face throughout Los Angeles and even taken to social media in an effort to get the word out.

This past weekend, Evan began tweeting friends, reporters and even USC quarterback Matt Barkley in hopes of publicizing the story of his dad's disappearance so more people would be on the lookout. The grass roots effort seems to be working considering local and national outlets have picked up the story and Evan conducted interviews with "E! News" and "Good Morning America" on Monday.

"We're just trying to get as many people as possible to be looking for my dad out there," Evan Smith said. "It's very discouraging that it's coming up on a week. We're just putting our faith in God that he'll be delivered to us safely."

It's especially difficult for Evan to have his father go missing because the two of them were so close.

Gavin, a 6-foot-6 forward on John Wooden's final championship team at UCLA in 1975, encouraged both his sons to play basketball. Younger son Austin helped lead Calabasas High School to its first-ever sectional title in March, while Evan appeared in four games at USC last season.

"He is the biggest influence in my life," Evan said. "He taught me how to play. I emulate my father. He's my hero. He's a great guy."

Evan Smith knows the odds of finding his father diminish with every passing day, so he's thankful for the attention the case has received.

"As long as people are talking about it and looking, that's all my family and I can ask for," he said. "My father has a family that is looking for him and that he needs to return to. We'll never stop looking for him until we find him."

Anyone with information about the whereabouts of Gavin Smith can call detectives at the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department at (323) 890-5500.

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