Judge Lance Ito wishes Falcons rookie Ito Smith well

Josh Alper
ProFootball Talk on NBC Sports

Judge Lance Ito’s name will forever be linked with O.J. Simpson after presiding over Simpson’s murder trial in 1994 and 1995, but that’s not the only link he shares with a professional running back.

Falcons fourth-round pick Ito Smith was given the name Romarius when he was born on September 11, 1995, but the ubiquity of the Simpson trial led a four-year-old cousin to point out that he looked “just like the judge off TV.” Smith got a nickname out of that observation and he now has a fan in his namesake.

“No, I was unaware of the existence of a pro football prospect by the name of ‘Ito’ Smith,” Judge Ito said to ESPN.com. “Having looked him up and discovering he is a handsome and talented fellow, certainly not a bad thing. Pro football is a tough business, and I wish him a long and healthy career.”

Smith will try to embark on that career by nabbing a spot behind Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman on the Falcons roster this year. Judge Ito retired in 2015, so he’ll likely have time to keep tabs on Smith’s progress.

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