Coach Jerry “Smitty” Hampton.
It’s a name that is well-known and well-loved throughout Savannah.
Hampton died in a tragic car accident on the Talmadge bridge in August and family and friends have been doing everything they can to keep his memory alive.
And today they’ve done something to allow the entire city to join in.
On Tuesday morning, family, friends and the community gathered at 5 different locations throughout the city –including Hampton’s Savannah home–to officially declare today–“Smitty Day.”
“[Jerry] Smitty Hampton was born in Savannah, Georgia on October 20,1979 to Christine Hampton and the late Jerry Washington…”
And it’s on this very same day in 2015 that family and friends are together again…not only to celebrate his birth, but the life he lived.
A ribbon cutting–and doves released…all in his honor.
“His presence lights up the room, no matter who you are—he befriended the homeless, he befriended strangers…there’s no dull moment in Smitty’s life,” said Bakari Bryant, one of Hampton’s best friends and basketball colleagues.
“The demise of this heroic coach and mentor was a great loss to our city. The passing of Smitty, a beacon of light to the youth of savannah..took away a strong backbone for the promising athletes in our community.”
“…You know Smitty would give his last to the young men and the young women of the city of Savannah…no matter who you are–no matter what race or what color…he went all out and we need this day so that his name wouldn’t go up in vain. Because of the work that he put into the city of Savannah, he was loved by so many and it shows,” Bryant said.
And that’s why everyone we spoke to says was so important to be here…
“The things that we do for him are things he would have done for us. Anything that he did, he did it in return for everybody, no matter who you were. His time on this earth…he touched everybody. It was very important for him to be able to connect everybody, touch people’s lives, make a difference. So we’re going to continue to live his legacy and continuing making a difference in other people’s lives, especially in the youth of Savannah.”