D’Anthony Marshall Smotherman is a dedicated teacher and track coach who recently moved to Atlanta. Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, he speaks of his choices in life with spirited regard. Offered several opportunities for college, he chose Grambling State University, receiving a full athletic scholarship in track. “Grambling? Man, that’s the best college in the world. It’s the campus where everybody is somebody!”
Graduating with degrees in electrical engineering technology and math, D’Anthony earned his masters in the art of teaching from Linwood University in Missouri. The avid member of Omega Psi Phi fraternity belongs to another exceptional society of men, where the rites include unconditional love and mindful presence-the fraternity of fatherhood.
D’Anthony was 27 years old when his son, Kaylen, was born. Living with his namesake’s mother at the time, the couple had been engaged twice. “I had no intentions on parenting alone. I wanted to be married. Loved my son’s mother dearly. I still do.” After a six-year relationship, the new parents decided to finally go their separate ways. D’Anthony became a single parent. “My son’s been with me since he was 2.”
A single working father, overwhelmed and adjusting, he recalled the words of his mother. “She said, ‘This is going to be hard. You’ll need a lot of patience, and don’t let pride get in your way.'” Not one to ask for help, “I didn’t know what to do, I just did it. There’s morning care, daycare, diapers, toilet training and that whole thing. Taking him to the doctor, getting the doctor’s bill, what are we going to eat… and all on one income.”
Kaylen was four years old before his father accepted that he had a support system-his birth family. D’Anthony’s life changed when his own dad, retired teacher William Smotherman, stepped in. “My dad took his grandson to school everyday, to his games. As time went on, I realized there’s nothing wrong with asking for a little help.”
Kaylen, now eight, loves sports, reading books, and is always looking for the next adventure, his father says. “He’s a friendly, outgoing kid. I try to expose him to a lot-going with me to track meets; he’s in Boy Scouts. We built a model plane together, and he actually flew an airplane while I watched from the ground!”
D’Anthony’s mom, retired principal Dr. Theresa Smotherman, is inspired observing her son as a sole parent. “D’Anthony demonstrates the wherewithal of every attribute that the Mother of the Year would demonstrate,” she says. “I am not just saying this because he is my son. He juggles his time between work as a teacher and a coach to be an involved parent.”
Enriched by the offerings of sole parenting, D’Anthony states, “Fatherhood has given me wisdom, taught me patience.” Pausing, he adds, “And fatherhood has actually helped me be a better educator.” Students embrace him as a father figure; he takes the role seriously. Whether there are two parents in the home or not, he believes all kids deserve exposure and attention.
Coach Smotherman proves that becoming a person’s father is different from choosing fatherhood-it’s a practice, perhaps an art. D’Anthony looks forward to marrying one day and having more children. Until then, he’s cool with perfecting his position as Kaylen’s father. “I want my son to say, ‘My dad is an understanding person, a disciplined man. He’s a loving father, a caring father and a great protector.’ “
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