With the 126th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Atlanta Falcons selected running back Ito Smith out of Southern Mississippi. Why do we mention this the day after celebrating America’s birthday?
Well, Smith has a cool story tied to his nickname “Ito.” Come to find out, Smith was born on September 11, 1995 which was the day Judge Lance Ito asked the prosecution to start its rebuttal in the O.J. Simpson trial. Smith’s four-year old cousin Brittney, who saw Judge Ito on television, pretty much named him.
“That little baby looks just like the judge off TV, Brittney Smith said, per Vaughn McClure of ESPN.”
There we have it. Smith says everybody in his family “has been calling me Ito ever since.” And he actually agreed that he looked “like a little Japanese baby.” We must mention that Smith’s actual real first name is Romarius.
Though, this story would not be complete if the famous courtroom judge did not weigh in on his young namesake.
“No, I was unaware of the existence of a pro football prospect by the name of ‘Ito’ Smith,” Judge Ito told ESPN. “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.”
How cool is this? According to ESPN, Ito was an athlete as well in his younger years, having lettered in tennis at John Marshall High School in Los Angeles, Ca. in 1968. As such, Ito grew up as a Los Angeles Rams fan.
But we are going to guess Judge Ito might just have a soft spot for the young Ito Smith as he begins his professional career as a Falcon.
During Smith’s four seasons at Southern Mississippi, he recorded 5,984 yards from scrimmage and 49 total touchdowns. He currently sits behind Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman on the Falcons depth chart.