CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio — Two Cleveland Heights brothers are ready to make a splash as they begin their journeys into NFL, as defensive end Tyreke Smith heads to Seattle Seahawks and tight end Malik Smith hopes to earn a spot on the Cleveland Browns roster.
The Smith brothers graduated from Cleveland Heights High School, with older brother Malik focusing on basketball and Tyreke playing football. Tyreke went on to play football at The Ohio State University while Malik went on to play basketball at UNC Asheville, Bryant, and finally Fisk University.
While Malik hadn't played football since his Pop Warner days as a kid, he always had a love for the game—and his younger brother gave him some encouragement to switch gears and focus on making a career on the gridiron.
"I took a visit to my brother's school to go visit him and they have a basketball court inside their football facility, so I was working out getting ready for basketball and one of the coaches that walked in with my brother had been watching me for the last few days," Malik said.
After the coach saw his 6'6", 265-pound frame and his ability to dunk, Malik was pushed even harder to pursue football.
"I literally got in the car and I looked at my brother and was like 'hey, let's do this,'" Malik said. "I came home and told my parents 'hey, I'm going to play football' and they looked at me like I was crazy, but that's how it started."
A few weeks later, in a room together surrounded by family and friends, the Smith brothers both had plenty to celebrate.
On Saturday, Tyreke got his ticket to the NFL when the Seahawks selected him in the fifth round of the 2022 NFL Draft.
"I was right there when he got the call. We got excited, everybody was jumping up and down and he was still on the phone with [Seahawks head coach] Pete Carroll when I got my call," Malik said.
Just after Tyreke was drafted by the Seahawks, the Browns reached out to Malik.
"When he got off the phone I was like 'bro, I'm going to Cleveland man'' and there was a whole 'nother turnup session," Malik said. "It was joyous. There were a lot of emotions going on, a lot of tears."
The two brothers are now both on a path to pursue their dreams in the NFL, and one day maybe even go head to head.
"I'm definitely looking forward to it," Tyreke said with a smile. "We're right across from each other so it's definitely a matchup."
Tyreke said that he couldn't be more proud of Malik, who is equally proud of him.
"It's just a blessing. I've been all the work he's been putting in behind the scenes, all the workouts he's been going to just trying to force himself to learn the game at a quicker pace," Tyreke said. "It's just a great thing to see and just made me so happy to see him and how happy he was and how motivated he was and how determined he was to take this opportunity and go to the next level. I was just so happy. As his brother I'm just his biggest fan, I can't wait to see what he does."
While Tyreke boards a flight out to his new home in Seattle, Malik will head back home to Northeast Ohio to participate in the Browns rookie minicamp from May 13-15 at CrossCountry Mortgage Fieldhouse where he'll compete for a place on the roster.
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