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.