Bolivar High School senior Hunter Smith
Champions of Character: Hunter Smith - Bolivar Central
Hunter Smith just completed his senior season as a kicker on the Bolivar High School football team.
Fresh off a season ending loss to Liberty, the field at Tiger Stadium still bears Hunter's cleat marks.
"You can see it actually where I come in and plant my foot. All the grass here has been torn up," said Hunter.
Kicking, however, wasn't his first assignment.
Despite being born with one hand, Hunter started out as a receiver at Cordova High School.
"I dropped some every now and then," said Hunter.
Hunter transferred to Bolivar last spring to live with his aunt after losing both his parents to cancer.
"My mom had been sick probably since I was in the 8th grade," said Hunter.
Hunter lost his father one month later to leukemia.
"That was like the world slapping me in the face. Like what else could happen. I mean, once you lose both your parents in the same month, it's hard to think about the future or the past of the present," said Hunter.
Moving to Hardeman County was an adjustment for Hunter - an adjustment he says he couldn't have made without family support.
"They've been here, both sides of the family and I couldn't have done it without them. My aunt pushing me to come to school. I owe a lot to her," said Hunter.
Another source of motivation was his football team.
"In a way, a football team helps with brotherhood and so it helped me relax a little more with comfort and support,” said Hunter.
“It helps knowing you have sixty other players loving you," said Hunter.
Hunter made a pair of promises to his parents before they past away.
He promised his dad he would play and finish football. Now he's making good on a promised he made to his mother: graduate high school and attend college.
"I’m a big dreamer. Just pushing forward with my future. I’ve been looking at apartments in Memphis. I applied to Memphis last week,” said Hunter.
Hunter said he wants to go back to the Memphis area after graduation.
"My kicking coach always told me to keep your head up even if you miss. My best advice is to always keep your head up. Even if it gets bad. And if you keep your head up there might always be a light at the end of the tunnel," said Hunter.
Editor’s note: Hunter’s father and grandfather played football at Bolivar Central. His mother was a member of the track team and the color guard.