Summer 2024

From blood clots to Super Bowl: Chiefs OL Trey Smith says 'God has a plan and purpose for me'

Kansas City Chiefs starting right guard Trey Smith knows that the more announcers mention his name, the worse he’s probably playing. It’s backward for offensive lineman as compared to skill-position players.

That’s why Smith hopes his name is never mentioned on Sunday, when his team takes on the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LVIII at 6:30 p.m. ET in Las Vegas.

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But it’s time to start giving Smith some attention. Chiefs superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes certainly knows how important he is to Kansas City’s success.

“You love having the mentality that [Smith] has,” Mahomes told during the 2021-22 season, Smith’s first in the league. “He wants to be great; he wants to continue to be. … I want him finishing every single play and playing the way he’s played this entire season.”

Despite an impressive collegiate career at Tennessee, Smith fell all the way to the sixth round of the 2021 NFL Draft before the Chiefs picked him up. Still, the 24-year-old has started in every game he’s played (missing only one), and he’s quickly become one of the most important pieces along the offensive line.

Smith most likely tumbled down draft boards due to concerns about a health scare in college and his football longevity. Heading into his sophomore year with the Volunteers, Smith noticed that he had been struggling to finish offseason workouts. He went to get examined, and the results were more serious than anyone imagined. Doctors discovered a number of blood clots — pulmonary embolisms — in his lungs.

Shaken, the 6-foot-6, 321-pound giant on Tennessee’s offensive line suddenly wondered if he’d ever play another snap of football.

Yet after months of treatment, Smith was cleared to play his junior year, albeit with a limit on his practice reps. He performed admirably, but he knew he had more to give, and his senior season was even better. Playing to honor his mother, who died in 2015 at the age of 51 from congestive heart failure, Smith looked the part of an early-round NFL draft pick.

And although his complicated medical history resulted in falling to the sixth round, Smith knows good has come from it.

“It’s so powerful that I can be a resource for people to go through this with,” Smith told KCUR in early 2023, “that they don’t have to go through it alone.”

Since his original diagnosis, Smith has set out to increase public awareness about pulmonary embolisms, a condition that kills roughly 100,000 people every year. He’s partnered with the National Blood Clot Alliance and even raised awareness through the NFL campaign My Cause My Cleats.


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It was his faith in God, he says, that anchored him during his darkest days.

“It was just a lot of hurdles to jump,” Smith told KCUR. “Ultimately, I had to walk by faith and not by sight.”

At Super Bowl LVIII media availability Monday night, Sports Spectrum asked Smith — who writes “God First” in both his Instagram and X accounts — about his faith.

“I just remember going to church all the time. My mom was a woman of faith, my dad,” said Smith, whose grandfather was a preacher. “Being around that environment just sort of molded me in terms of how I thought and how I believed. For me, just thinking about my journey and my story, I know God was a part of it.”

Smith says his faith-filled upbringing in Jackson, Tennessee, helps him in all of life’s circumstances. The Bible verse that he’s adopted as his mantra not only this season, but in life in general, is Jeremiah 29:11.

“At the end of the days, ups, downs … God has a plan and a purpose for me in my life,” Smith said after quoting his favorite verse. “I have to uphold it. I just have to come to work every day and put my head down and be at my best. So for me, just understanding my faith and where it’s brought me thus far, I know God didn’t bring me this far just to let me down.

“… There’s just so much more I have to do, so many more people I have to help.”

So while you’re busy watching Mahomes zip passes to tight end Travis Kelce on Sunday night, try to remember Smith on the offensive line as well. God certainly sees him, loves him, and has a God-glorifying plan for his life.

>> Do you know Christ personally? Learn how you can commit your life to Him. <<

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