Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Family, friends mourn Largo teen killed in Seminole car crash

LARGO — LeShawn Smith's grandfather was planning to buy his grandson a used sports car. Now, he's scraping up money to pay for Smith's funeral.

Smith, 16, a Largo High basketball player, was one of four teens killed Friday in a horrific Seminole crash.

His family sat down with a reporter for their first interview Tuesday afternoon.

Smith's grandfather, Abdul Raheem Muhammad, 67, is trying to cope with the loss of his only grandchild, who has lived with him for about five years. Collapsing on a floral couch in his living room, he fought tears as he recalled how special Smith was.

In many ways, Smith was a typical teen. He hated to clean his room. He loved to play with his Xbox and hang out with his friends. Sometimes at 2 in the morning, Muhammad would catch Smith texting his buddies. But Muhammad had a sense of comfort whenever Smith left the house. He knew Smith hung out with "good kids."

Smith made friends easily. He had a reputation for being a clown and looking out for others.

"He had the capacity to make everyone feel like they were special," said his great aunt, Deborah Johnson.

And since his death, a steady stream of teens has stopped by Muhammad's Largo condo to offer sympathy.

Dyimond Johnson, 17, was one of a half-dozen kids that visited Tuesday afternoon. He gave the family Smith's No. 15 basketball jersey, the one he will be buried in.

Smith was born April 24, 1992, in Goshen, N.Y, weighing 9 pounds 10 ounces. His mom, Tamisha Jackson, brags that he raised his head that first day. "We knew that he was going to be something special," said Jackson, 33, who lives in Delaware.

Jackson had Smith when she was 16. And she says his birth helped her stay on the right track. "He just always made me want to make better choices," Jackson said.

As a youngster, Smith loved to go to the observation deck of the World Trade Center and view New York City.

Around 2003, Smith came to visit his grandfather. That summer, Muhammad took him to Disney World and to water parks. Not surprisingly, Smith wanted to stay.

He went home to Delaware for a short while but his grades started to slip. So, they decided it might be best for him to come live with his grandfather for a while. It would also give Jackson a chance to go to back to college for a bachelor's degree in human services.

Growing up, Muhammad struggled. He worked in the garment district pushing racks as a teen. The retired New York Department of Corrections substance abuse counselor wanted a better life for his grandson.

"I spoiled him," Muhammad admitted. "Anything he wanted, he got." That included $100 to $150 sneakers virtually every month. And an iPhone for his last birthday.

Smith wanted to work. But Muhammad wouldn't hear of it. "Stay in school. I'll take care of you," he said.

Smith was good at most sports. For a while he played football with the Largo For Youth league. But lately, his passion was basketball. The 6-foot-2, 182-pound young man was known as a hustler on the court. He was the guy that could get you what you needed, said teammate Dyimond Johnson.

And Muhammad was his biggest fan. He knew Smith could be a basketball great.

"I went to every game, practice, everything," Muhammad said. "I'd get mad if they took him out."

Smith loved basketball. But he wasn't sure what he wanted to be. He just knew he wanted to go to college, his mom said.

When Smith wasn't hanging out with his friends, his grandfather would drive him around town. Smith had his learner's permit, but he wasn't eager to get behind the wheel.

"His friends said he didn't like when people drive fast," Jackson said.

Last summer, Muhammad battled prostate cancer. He talked with Smith about how he might leave him one day. Not in his wildest dreams did he think his grandson would die first, Muhammad said, choking back tears.

"He's going to help me walk through the gate."

Lorri Helfand can be reached at or 445-4155.

If you go

Funeral service

The funeral service for LeShawn Smith is planned for 4 p.m. on Sunday at Moss Feaster Funeral Home, 13401 Indian Rocks Road in Largo. Visitation with friends is scheduled from 2 to 4 p.m.

Fast facts

LeShawn Smith's family

Survivors include his father, Jerry D. Smith of South Fallsburg, N.Y.; his grandmother, Sheila Dunlop of Middletown, N.Y., a brother, Zuriel Smith, and a sister, Anna Smith, both of Middletown, N.Y.

Family, friends mourn Largo teen killed in Seminole car crash 04/14/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 15, 2009 3:04pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Helicopter, small aircraft collide at Clearwater Air Park


    CLEARWATER — Two people suffered minor injuries after a helicopter and a small aircraft collided late Saturday afternoon at Clearwater Air Park, 1000 N Hercules Ave.

    Clearwater Fire Department emergency personal douse a plane with fire retardant after the plane crashed into a helicopter at Clearwater Air Park 1000 N Hercules Ave. Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. According to Clearwater Fire two people sustained minor injuries. [Photo by Clearwater Fire Department]
  2. 4-year-old girl, man injured in Clearwater Beach boating crash


    A 4-year-old girl was airlifted with serious injuries after a personal watercraft she was riding on collided with a boat in the Intracoastal Waterway near Clearwater Beach just before 5 p.m. Saturday afternoon.

  3. Hernando Sheriff's Office identifies bank robber killed after chase, places 7 deputies on administrative leave


    Authorities have identified a bank robbery suspect fatally shot by Hernando County sheriff's deputies after a wild chase Friday in which the fleeing suspect rammed several patrol cars in Brooksville.

    Scott Michael Chamberlain, 44, died after a deputy-involved shooting Friday. The Hernando County Sheriff's Office said that Chamberlaine attempted to rob a bank before taking deputies on a pursuit. (Florida Department of Corrections)
  4. No. 12 FSU, defense struggle in 27-21 loss to N.C. State


    TALLAHASSEE — It's easy to blame No. 12 Florida State's 27-21 loss to North Carolina State on the injury to starting quarterback Deondre Francois or the three-week layoff because of Hurricane Irma.

    It would also be wrong.

    Florida State Seminoles wide receiver Nyqwan Murray (8) carries during the first quarter of the Florida State Seminoles game against the North Carolina State Wolfpack on September 23, 2017, at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Fla.  At the half, North Carolina State Wolfpack 17, Florida State Seminoles 10.
  5. Trump tells Warriors star Stephen Curry that White House visit is off


    SOMERSET, N.J. — Stephen Curry and President Donald Trump agree on one thing: The Golden State star is not going to the White House anytime soon.

    Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry poses for photos during NBA basketball team media day Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, in Oakland, Calif. [Associated Press]