(WHAS11)-- Who is Russ Smith? He drives, he dishes, he makes shots fall that seem impossible. He's the unlikely hero for UofL.
No one knows Smith better than his family.
He is steadfast, he is intelligent, he’s got it going on. He’s loyal to what he does,” Celestine Spooner O’Neal, Smith’s grandmother said.
He's also the spitting image of his mother Paulette.
“Without the ponytail,” Paulette O’Neal said. “[I’m] Russ without the ponytail.”
At home smith is known as Russy and his family will tell you he is one of a kind and quite the character and doesn’t surprise them that he will go down as one of the best Cardinals in Louisville history.
“It doesn’t surprise me,” his mother said. “He’s fantastic in everything he does. It’s not just basketball, he's always been competitive.”
Smith's mom could see Smith’s dunking on Kentucky’s Julius Randle coming the last time the Cards met the Wildcats.
“I remember I put him in karate and they wanted him to go against the top kid in the karate school and he had just got there but he was very confident,” his mom said. “This was when he was just yay high.”
Always a little undersized, but Smith was never afraid.
“He put the boy on the floor, the best guy in the school, and they just couldn't believe it,” Paulette O’Neal said.
Even Smith’s grandmother thought that his game winner versus Cincinnati on February 22nd was russdiculous!
“I try my best to be calm. It’s impossible,” his grandmother said. “Did you see the game where the last two seconds when he shot it? I said that was awesome!”
All eyes will be on Smith on Friday night, but he's got cheerleaders who know what he's capable of and just want Smith to be himself and live his life.