In March, the Charlotte Hornets will honor former Carolina Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith for the work he’s done in the community over the years, especially as it relates to domestic violence awareness.
“Steve Smith Night” will be on March 10, when the Hornets host the Phoenix Suns at the Spectrum Center, the team announced Friday. The first 7,500 fans in attendance will receive bobble heads of the retired Panther, which depict him in a football version of the Hornets’ classic-style teal and pinstriped uniform.
Smith and his family will be in attendance at the “Classic Night” game, and Smith will serve as an honorary captain for the Hornets before the game.
The night will feature fundraising opportunities to support the Steve Smith Family Foundation, which is focused on family health and wellness and the awareness and prevention of domestic violence. This will also be one of the first times Smith is promoting the Smith Family Wellness Center, a free clinic on Central Avenue that opened last year and offers medical and family counseling services.
The Hornets will be presenting Smith with a check for a “significant amount” that night, according to Pete Guelli, the team’s chief marketing and sales officer.
The Hornets have always had a relationship with Smith, Guelli said, and approached him about the opportunity to honor him and his community efforts a few months ago.
“(Smith) has had such a dramatic impact on the history of sports in Charlotte. He’s one of the biggest athletes to ever play here,” Guelli said. “What he’s doing from a community standpoint ... we thought we should figure out a way to collaborate.”
Smith has long been a fierce advocate of domestic violence awareness. Promoting the cause is especially pertinent locally right now, Guelli noted. In Charlotte, domestic violence has played a role in every homicide so far this year.
“I am appreciative of this opportunity to promote our work and to spend an evening with the Hornets,” Smith said in a statement. “I never thought I would have a bobble head in a Hornets uniform. I’m excited to see myself in teal and purple.”
The Hornets have had other “bobble head nights” in the past to drum up fan excitement. Past nights have featured Dwight Howard, Frank Kaminsky, Kemba Walker and Cam Newton.