Celtics champ alum Ray Allen credited by JR Smith with changing his life via golf

·3 min read

Long opponents on the basketball court, an encounter over a game of golf with Boston Celtics Hall of Fame sharpshooter Ray Allen reportedly changed the life of fellow two-time NBA champion JR Smith. In a recent interview with Complex’s Pierce Simpson, Smith credited Allen with helping him begin a new chapter of his life with a fresh perspective on his own self-worth.

Smith’s exit from the league came hard and fast after a blunder helped contribute to a 2018 NBA Finals loss to the Golden State Warriors, and clashing with the Cleveland Cavaliers the following season after a rebuild began with the exit of LeBron James. While he’d link up with James for one more postseason stint with James in 2020, it would mark the end of his career in the league.

While going out winning a title might seem like an ideal retirement for some, Smith didn’t feel he was done, even suggesting he is being blackballed by the NBA for his inability to find a new home in the league.

While his stats from the last two seasons of his career tell a different tale with the prep-to-pro shooting guard putting up just 5.4 points, 1.4 boards, and as many assists on 33.7% shooting overall and just 26% from deep, that his decline and exile were both fast and swift is undeniable.

For Smith, having since shifted his focus elsewhere, there are no tears to be shed — and he gives Allen much of the credit for his pivot into a new chapter of his life.

“Ray is a great motivational speaker. A lot of people don’t know that,” he offered. “Ray impacted my mind, just helping me challenge myself, staying locked-in, and not just using our bodies as our talent.”

The two were on a trip to the Dominican Republic, and Smith noticed the UConn product was keeping busy taking online courses in his downtime. This inspired the former Laker to do the same.

“I’ve never had a person—especially a quote, unquote, ‘peer,’ whom I never have played on his team—in a day or two change how I think and how I look at my own self-worth.”

“I can tell the true care he had for me. I could tell he really wanted to see me succeed regardless of (if) it was basketball or something else; that’s something I take with me. Nobody has encouraged me like that,” Smith explained.

This would end with the Cavs champ enrolling in North Carolina A&T — and as a student-athlete, joining the Aggies golf team.

“I was working like I was literally trying to make the league all over again,” he related. “It was fun as hell. When I got my first A in class, it was like me dunking on somebody or hitting a game-winner.”

Listen to the “Celtics Lab” podcast on:

Apple Podcasts: https://apple.co/3zBKQY6

Spotify: https://spoti.fi/3GfUPFi

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Story originally appeared on Celtics Wire