COWETA COUNTY, Ga. — Former Northgate High School star and current Braves pitcher Will Smith is more than 550 miles away from his hometown in Newnan as he prepares for the 2021 season.
However when he saw the destruction Coweta County suffered from an EF-4 tornado last week, he knew he needed to help out in anyway he could.
“We never had a tornado like this before. We’ve obviously had some bad weather in the springtime. Strong storms, maybe a tree falls down here and there. But I don’t think I can ever remember a tornado touching down and landing and tearing up the county like it did,” Smith told Channel 2′s Alison Mastrangelo.
Smith is currently in North Port, Florida finishing up spring training. He said he was aware of the severe weather in Georgia on Thursday night, but he didn’t know how bad it was until the next morning.
“Actually had my parents in town and we knew some bad weather was coming through,” Smith said. “I woke up and had a bunch of text messages and phone calls. My wife was at home in Moreland at the time. She was sleeping in the basement and it was pretty scary to wake up and see everything.”
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The Friday after the EF-4 tornado tore through his beloved community, Smith checked in with the rest of his family and friends.
“Everyone that I was in contact with was OK, just some trees down here and there. Nothing fell on any of the houses or things like that. Just a big clean up process but everything was good on my side.”
The same could not be said for other families in the area, especially homes by Newnan High School which received the worst of the damage.
“I went to Northgate and Newnan was the one that got hit. My parents went to Newnan. I’ve known some kids that went to Newnan. Some of the kids that I work out with at home plate, high school kids that work out, they go to Newnan as well. I didn’t technically go there, but their baseball field and school got destroyed and we are doing anything we can to help them out,” Smith said.”
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The former Northgate star said everyone he has talked to has already jumped in to assist those in need.
“They are just grabbing a chain saw and going to help out anyway. They can grab water and diapers to donate at the other high schools, doing anything they can to help out really.”
Even though Smith can’t be there in person right now to help his hometown start to rebuild, he and the Atlanta Braves are finding other ways to support the Newnan community.
The Braves will set up a charity auction and hope to have items up on the team website this week. Smith and the team will match the donations made.
“Freddie and Ronnie signed a bat. The bullpen signed a hat. Starting pitching staff signed a hat. I really do appreciate the guys helping out and signing some stuff to try to get some money raised for some people back home,” Smiths said. “We are just trying to get people back on their feet that houses got destroyed and lost their homes and stuff.”
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