Helen Ruth Hughes Smith was born on November 30, 1957 to Edward and Mary Hughes in Stuttgart, Arkansas. She departed this life on March 3, 2021 at Baptist Health Medical Center in Stuttgart, Arkansas.
She attended Stuttgart Public Schools, Class of 1975. Basketball was the love of her life. As a Stuttgart Ricebirdette, she scored 57 points in one game. Her talent attracted many college scouts, and she received several offers to numerous universities. Ultimately, she chose the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, which allowed her to be close to home. She obtained a Bachelor’s Degree from UAPB.
Helen’s love for the sport led her to be inducted into the 2007 UAPB/AM&N Sports Hall of Fame. In addition, she was one of the first women to play in the Women’s NBA for a short period of time. She later chose to come back home. Helen was united in holy matrimony to James ‘Tommy’ Smith, and they were happily married for over 40 years. She was the best wife, sister, aunt, cousin, and friend. To all of her family, she was our MVP (Most Valuable Person) as she led by example and inspired us all to never let your health condition deter you from being all that you can be. Helen was a true fighter and never gave up on obtaining her dreams.
She was preceded in death by her parents Mary and Edward Hughes, a baby girl, grandparents, and brothers Jesse J. Kates and Lorenzo Williams.
Helen leaves to cherish her memories her loving husband James Smith of Humnoke, AR; children Toni D. Grigler of AR, Karmen Romona Smith of CA, and Cedrick Smith of TX; her devoted brothers David (Ann) Hughes, Howard Benton, Gary Benton, Charles (Sherry) Benton, and Kirk (Kim) Hughes, all of Stuttgart, AR; her loving sister Sandra Hughes (Larry) McGee of Belton, TX; aunt Essie Cole of Los Angeles, CA; and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, other relatives, and friends.
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:7-8
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