Embracing Your Second Chance
Through her charity work with Treasure You and Pat & Emmitt Smith Charities, Pat Smith has gotten the opportunity to hear the triumphs and challenges of many women. In her new book, Second Chances, she shares these women’s stories as well as her own.
Pat has always had high aspirations. She was the first African American woman to win the title of Miss Virginia in 1993. Next, she set her sights on Miss USA. While preparing for the competition, she lost her mother to breast cancer. She was devastated, but she was inspired to continue. She went on to compete and placed as first runner up. She dreamed of becoming a journalist and hosting a morning network show.
One night in 1992 she and a friend got backstage passes to a comedy show in Virginia. While backstage, she met Martin Lawrence. She says they argued at their very first meeting, but there was an undeniable attraction. She gave him her number, and the two ended up dating. Soon after, they were engaged. Pat says looking back, the engagement was rushed, but at the time she just didn’t see it. In 1995 they embarked on what would be a tumultuous 18-month marriage. Although the good times were really good, the bad times were extremely difficult. Even the birth of their baby girl, Jasmin, did not quell the tension.
Although they both had grown up as Christians, they didn’t practice their faith on a daily basis by praying, reading the Bible, or going to church. Meanwhile, the arguments were getting worse. One night, after a huge fight, Pat heard God give very her specific directions. He said, “Be quiet, pack one bag, and leave.” She obeyed. At the time she had no money, no credit, and felt too ashamed to ask her family back home for help. She took her daughter and went to the home of Sheree Smith, former wife of actor Will Smith.
After a few days she got an attorney and moved into a hotel. She felt insecure, alone and depressed. Pat knew she had to return to church. Once she was there, she felt peace. She attended regularly and renewed her relationship with Christ.
Pat knew it was time for a fresh start. She began pursuing career opportunities in the field she loved, television. She also decided to take a vacation with friends to Aruba. It was there that she met Emmitt Smith. He was immediately interested in her. After bumping into her several times throughout the week, she took his phone number. They fell in love and began dating. After about a year, Emmitt told her he had terrible news. He had gotten his ex girlfriend pregnant. However, he was apologetic and still very much in love with Pat. Pat forgave him, and by 2000, the couple was engaged. They have now been married for 16 years and have 4 children together.
Pat is thankful for her second chances in life, love and even relationships. She says God helped her restore relationships with people in her past, including Martin and Emmitt’s ex girlfriend. She says, “No matter what you’ve been through, whether suffering, loss, or disappointment, God can take that pain and turn it into opportunities to create hope in your life. It’s God’s way of refining us and growing us.”
MRS. AND MR. SMITH
Pat and Emmitt starred in the OWN special titled Mrs. & Mr. Smith. The special followed Pat as she juggled her kids, a superstar husband, and her own career aspirations. She says, “I felt a call to put ourselves out there as a couple- not just the good moments. People need to know that the only way we get through is with grace and a lot of work. At the end of it all we are in church together loving each other, growing together, and married 16 years.”
The idea for Treasure You came from the night she left her ex husband. She sought help and counsel from another woman who was married to a former football player. They were able to talk and relate, and Pat walked away feeling inspired. She wanted to provide the same safety and inspiring atmosphere to other women who had gone through similar situations.
Pat knew it was time to start Treasure You when her pastor, Bishop T.D. Jakes, made a powerful statement in church one day. He said, “Whatever God is telling you to do in your life, you go and do it NOW!” She knew that direction was just for her. She embarked on the journey of starting Treasure You, which began as a retreat for wives of high profile celebrities. These women often felt lost, alone, and put aside. After the success of that retreat, she expanded Treasure You to become a non-profit that included a wider focus.
Now, Treasure You is dedicated to “supporting women in financial, emotional or spiritual need.” The organization pays for emergency expenses, educational needs, and weekend retreat participation. Pat says, “I know what it feels like to be scared, to feel like the rug has been ripped from under you. I don’t think I’m the answer, but I’m the bridge for women when they just are in a situation like me.”
Pat says her retreats are “intended for all women to reconnect with themselves during a luxurious weekend designed to encourage their spirit through remembering their worth and treasuring themselves.” She wants women to “share, grow and learn from each other’s experiences and leave with a renewed sense of purpose, passion, and power.” This year she kicks off her fundraising campaign, called “1+1= Second Chance.” It emphasizes women coming together to build funds that will give a second chance to other women.