Families Lost, and Found
A LOT OF PEOPLE still don’t understand why it would be important for me to go underground, to keep my distance, to lose myself and get myself lost in where I live and where I work. That group includes my family, my parents and brothers and sisters and the nieces and nephews and cousins. It also includes my wives, plural—Delois is my third. When we met, she didn’t know what it meant to be around Tommie Smith, the good and the bad. I think that anyone who has ever gotten involved with someone like me, with a background like mine, is going to both suffer and reap benefits, because of who I am and what I represent.
Delois sees this, but she doesn’t. I do things now to make money, with her help, and much of it comes from what happened to me in Mexico City. So I get a lot of “Oh, you’re Tommie Smith! Can I shake your hand?” She’s standing there, and of course she’s proud, but I’m saying, “Hey, come on, let’s not.” All it takes is one—one shot, one stab, one anything. She doesn’t see that; all she sees is that I’m Tommie Smith and I’m important.
It has been hard on all of them: Delois, whom I married in 2000; Denise, who also was known as Akiba, whom I was married to for 24 years; and my first wife, also Denise, whom I married while we were both in college and while she was carrying my eldest son, Kevin. They all suffered. The first Denise suffered the most. She’s the one that people tormented on the street in San Jose; she’s the one who got the phone calls while I was out of town because I had to travel to make some money; she’s the one who didn’t go to school because she had a child and chose to stay home and take care of him. She’s the one who saw me early in life struggling, trying to get going, who saw me not making it in Cincinnati with the Bengals. And she struggled