Born May 15, 1969, in Pensacola, FL, professional football player Emmitt Smith entered the ranks of the NFL after attending the University of Florida in the late '80s; the Dallas Cowboys recruited Smith amid the first round of their 1990 draft. Under the aegis of coach Jimmy Johnson, Smith proceeded to rack up an awe-inspiring series of field triumphs including three Super Bowl Championships, eight Pro Bowl games, and the honor league MVP in 1993. Smith eventually switched teams from the Cowboys to the Arizona Cardinals during the 2003 and 2004 seasons. Smith transitioned rather fluidly from gridiron star to on-camera star when the producers of the reality series Dancing with the Stars tapped him to perform in the third season of that program (in 2006) opposite dance partner Cheryl Burke; the pair won the competition, making him the first sports star to garner the program's top prize.
Biography by Nathan Southern
- Left college in 1990 after his junior year to enter the NFL draft; took classes every off-season and completed his degree in 1996 because he had promised his mother he'd graduate.
- His wife, Patricia, was Miss Virginia in 1994 and runner-up in that year's Miss USA pageant.
- Was the MVP of Super Bowl XXVIII.
- When he retired, was the NFL's all-time leading rusher, with 18,355 yards.
- Helped establish the nonprofit Open Doors Foundation for disadvantaged youth. Also works with Make-a-Wish Foundation, Salvation Army and Ronald McDonald House Charities.
- Member of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.
- Won Season 3 of ABC's Dancing With the Stars with partner Cheryl Burke.
- In 2010, was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, OH, in his first year of eligibility.