June 15, 2018
DENTON - Rising junior Roosevelt Smart draws inspiration on the basketball court from watching his hard-working mother accomplish her goals, including recently graduating with a Master of Science degree in nursing with Smart in attendance.
"I wanted to surprise my mom for her graduation," Smart said. "It wasn't always going to be a surprise, but my grandma came up with the idea of me driving down and making it memorable."
Smart made the decision to drive 14 hours from Denton, Texas, to Governors State University right outside Chicago to watch his mother, Angela Beal, receive her master's degree. Beal also got her bachelor's degree in nursing from Governors State and plans to be a family nurse practitioner.
"I honestly had no idea he was coming," Angela Beal said. "At first, I thought why wouldn't he be there, but it was a big deal to see him in attendance while I was waiting in line to receive my diploma."
Smart didn't officially commit to being at the graduation and instead kept quiet for an entire week staying with his grandmother.
"Her accomplishing this achievement means a lot to me because it shows her passion and commitment to do what she loves to do," Smart said. "I think that's where I get my hunger and competitiveness from when it comes to basketball. Seeing her work so hard makes me want to succeed even more to achieve my goals."
Smart's journey to North Texas has been no secret transferring from New Mexico junior college after one season. His work ethic in the gym led to an outstanding sophomore season with the Mean Green breaking numerous records, including most points in a season with 742 and a school record 133 three-pointers made. Smart also holds the single-game record with 10 three-pointers made in a 42-point effort against Rice on Jan. 13.
"I have to pinch myself sometimes because I am his biggest fan," Beal said. "I raised him to stay humble and I am proud of what he has accomplished so far. I couldn't ask for a better son and I am grateful for North Texas giving him this opportunity to do something he loves."
Beal was able to attend a couple of Mean Green games this past season. Entering his junior season with North Texas, Smart could reach 1,000 career points this upcoming season.
"This year I plan to be at more games," Beal said. "I'm looking forward to the upcoming season and ultimately want him to graduate college. I always tell him you have to have a degree to fall back on."
After such a strong first season with North Texas, Smart keeps finding ways to motivate himself to do more.
"Watching my mom get her masters definitely keeps me motivated," Smart said. "I want to continuously make her proud because it shows that I'm focused on my goals as well and she loves to see me win in life."