Editor – Baaba Hughes
When you come from a family of 8 like Toronto born Dane Smith, there’s no other choice but to be competitive. And Dane’s competitive spirit showed early on as he entered into many sports, his favorites including basketball and cross country.
Though Smith says he was naturally talented at both sports, he remembers watching the older kids on the basketball courts around his neighborhood for months. But he built up the courage and was able to join into the games and eventually hold is own. In his own words, “he sucked” at first but that didn’t stop him from wanting to get better.
He trained hard at P.H.A.S.E.1 Training Centre and worked to improve his skills. Going to high school at West Hill C.I. was also a big help, Dane says. He became a student of the game, and learned the discipline necessary to be successful in a very competitive athletic atmosphere.
“I learned hard work, how to stay punctual, everything you learn in school but through a mentoring program. That’s what I really felt P.H.A.S.E. 1 was about. Mentoring young men to be responsible. Getting your stuff done when it needs to be done but still having a great time.”
Dane was also motivated by his twin brother Dwayne Smith, who he said “set the bar high,” when it came to being successful in athletics. But despite the comparisons, Dane never felt like he was ever in his brother’s shadow and always looked at his twin as a motivation for him to continue working hard.
After high school, Dane attended a junior college in Texas called Kilgore College. From there he transferred to the University of Tennessee at Martin, and then playing pro in 2013 for the NBLC London Lightning, where he won the championship in his rookie year.
When asked about staying ready for opportunities, Smith says,
“It’s just a way of life now. You get in what you put in. You have to put in work to stay in shape because when you get the phone call you have to be ready to leave. There’s always something to do. I have to lift, have to workout, have to eat right. But mainly, it’s staying focused, being mentally prepared.”
Smith points to his experiences with P.H.A.S.E.1 as one of the main reasons he’s always well prepared till this day. He understood since his high school training what it would take to make it and he’s been able to carry that focus into his pro career.
Moving forward, Dane just wants to keep playing the game he loves. He also has some other ambitions that he strives for outside of the basketball court.
“Just continue to be a role model for younger players in Canada. I’ve made my way into acting opportunities from time to time as well. Starring in the We the North campaign and I just had a role in the Axe Canada Find your Magic commercial. Above all, just enjoy life day to day as it is because this career doesn’t last forever.”
Dane has put in the work and truly is a prime example of an Elite 1