When San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle Justin Smith takes part in today's Super Bowl, the former Jefferson City Jay and Missouri Tiger will show off the unrelenting style of play that has become his trademark.
But what's not well-known is he may have inherited that propensity for hard work from his paternal grandmother. Whether hoeing weeds in the bean fields or canning tomatoes, no one outworked Virginia Smith, who died in 2009.
Justin's parents recall his tenacity from an early age. "He was just a little bitty thing in diapers, but he grew up wanting to work," David Smith, Justin's father, said.
Justin's mother, Ginger Smith - who works as a P.E. teacher for the Jefferson City School District - remembers her young son struggling on the family farm to lift five-gallon buckets of cattle feed. All children have their own personalities; Justin's quirk was his curiosity to see how strong he could be.