Lurethia Ann “Retha” Smith, 1954-2012

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Lurethia Ann “Retha” Smith, or just “Mom,” as she was known to so many in the Los Angeles basketball community.

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The Los Angeles girls and women’s basketball community lost one of its most beloved members on Aug. 25, as Lurethia “Retha” Smith passed away after a long battle with breast cancer. She was 58 years old.

Hundreds attended Retha Smith’s memorial service today, including numerous Los Angeles area college coaches, high school coaches, present and former hoopers, friends and associates. Her obituary is as follows:

Lurethia Ann Smith, known by friends and family as “Retha,” was born April 7, 1954 in Birmingham, Alabama, to Ethel Minor and George Scott. In 1959 Retha moved to California to live with her grandmother Frazier and her Aunt Pearl. Retha attended Manual Arts High School and Tuskegee University. She demonstrated her passion for music as a child, playing violin in the LA Junior Philharmonic Orchestra, and various local orchestra groups.

As a child, Retha accepted Jesus Christ as Liberty Baptist Church. As an adult, she became a member of Crenshaw Christian Center. Retha married Homer Smith (preceded in death) in 1974, and was a devoted wife and a loving mother of three children.

Retha enjoyed every facet of life. Much of her time was spent as a legal secretary assisting attorneys at various law firms to spending countless hours administrating youth basketball teams and directing leagues. Retha has been an instrumental force in aiding young players to gain athletic scholarships to college.

More than anything else, Retha was most giving of her time. Regardless of her personal battles, she always offered a listening ear, or opened her home for others to reside, and she fed, clothed and transported any and all in need. She brought joy and laughter in any environment. She was a woman of strong faith and integrity.

Retha Smith helped run the Los Angeles Say No Classic League for a time. More recently she she has assisted her daughter, basketball trainer Sherrise Smith, with her business, Got Game, Inc. When Sherrise began her own summer league a few years ago, “The League,” Retha Smith helped with that, too.

Her warmth and openness endeared her to the LA basketball community, young and old. This past summer, no one would ever guess she was battling breast cancer by the way she was rushing about on The League’s opening day. Retha Smith would often find herself filling many roles on such occasions: administrator, record-keeper and manager. But to many, she was simply known as “Mom.”

Sherrise, sister Christine and brother Kyle all spoke at today’s service. Kyle, who is still in college, said he would miss his mother so much. Christine made attendees both cry and laugh with a story, and she called her older sister “the backbone of the family” since Retha Smith’s death. Sherrise said it is clear to her that her mother’s spirit is still with us. It was a beautiful service.

On a personal note, the last time I saw Retha Smith was in July, at one of The League games. I had come to support two of my girls, playing on the same team. I walked in and had walked right by Retha, sitting on the bleachers, before realizing it. I turned around and went back to give her a hug.

“I’m sorry, Mom, I didn’t even see you,” I said.

Retha’s smile was always golden. We are all going to miss her very much.

Rest in peace.

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