Kiki Smith: Hoopin’ is more than a hobby

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Topeka’s Kiki Smith may only be an 8th grader, but she’s been sharpening her skills on the court basically her whole life

“I started playing when I was three or four years old, I started playing with my sisters….without them I probably wouldn’t be here because I’ve always watched them play and I always played up with them and without them, I wouldn’t be the person I am,” Smith said. 

The person she is right now is a regional champion, Kiki and a group of local ballers just won the central bracket of the jr NBA’s global championship and will head to Florida to compete for the national title. Something both of her sisters are glowing about.

“Very, very proud, we didn’t get that opportunity that she got, so we just want her to do good down there,” Lilly Smith said. 

“It’s really a blessing to watch her grow up and see all the achievements and awards that she’s been able to do, so we’re really excited for her to be able to go down there, the Jr NBA and showcase what she can do best,” Blaize Burgess, her eldest sister, said.

And her sisters are gifted hoopers as well, one playing in college and the other at Topeka high, where she’ll go for high school. a lot of that has to do with their dad, Darold Smith, a former Washburn football player who’s instilled what it takes to be an elite athlete in his daughters.

“Work ethics,  the drive, knowing what it takes to get to college and the next level and everything, so that’s something that I’ve pushed and drive into my kids, pushed and drive into her, hey if you want to play, you gotta get in the gym, you gotta work, the other kids working,” Darold Smith said. 

Kiki is putting in the work, she’s spent hours here at Hillcrest Community Center, but she knows there is more to come.

“I really hope we win, that would be something cool to put Topeka on the map for girls basketball.”

But she’s enjoying the ride every step of the way. 

“That’s very exciting to me because I’ve never been to Orlando before and getting to go to Disneyland, that’s gonna be cool too, but the best thing is that I’m getting to play the game I love.”

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