Sport: Track & Field
Born: December 11, 1972
Town: Willingboro Township
LaMont Smith was born December 11, 1972 in Philadelphia and grew up in Willingboro Township. LaMont had a long, lean frame but was slow to develop as a runner. He was inspired by the exploits of Willingboro legend Carl Lewis and began
competing in AAU meets at 14. He went on to win nine state championships as a member of the Willingboro High Chimeras track team—the same one that had produced Lewis a decade earlier. LaMont’s specialty was the 400 meters. His best time in high school was 46.34, which is still a state record. He was basically unbeatable at the distance in 1990 and 1991, both indoors and outdoors.
In 1991, LaMont was selected for the U.S. Junior national team, working with renowned coach Charles Oliver. He would go on to compete in four Junior Olympic events. That fall, he enrolled at Blinn College in Texas, which boasted one of the top track programs among two-year institutions. At the 1992 NJCAA national championships, he was a member of the winning 4x400 relay squad. He also finished second in the indoor and third in the outdoor 400, earning Freshman All-America recognition. In 1993, LaMont won he indoor and outdoor 400 NJCAA titles and defended his 4x400 relay championship.
In 1994, LaMont moved to California and joined the Santa Monica Track Club, whose members included Lewis and his sister, Carol, as well as sprinters Leroy Burrell, Kevin Young, Steve Lewis and Mike Marsh. At the prestigious Mt. Sac Relays in Torrance, he made headlines with a time of 44.63 in the 400. At the 1996 Olympic Trials, LaMont ran a 44.30 to make the 4 x 400 relay team.
The Americans were heavy favorites to win the gold medal, but injuries to Michael Johnson and Butch Reynolds put their fate in doubt. LaMont ran the opening leg in the first round, an easy four-second win over Russia and Ghana. In the semifinals, LaMont gave the US a slight lead, which they held to win by a couple of strides over Jamaica. In the finals, Iwan Thomas of Great Britain exploded into the lead out of the blocks, but LaMont caught and passed him before handing the baton to Alvin Harrison. The race remained close but Derek Mills and Anthuan Maybank held on to win the gold medal by five meters with a time of 2:55.99.
LaMont continued to compete nationally and internationally as a member of the Santa Monica Track Club. In 1998, he recorded a best-ever indoor time of 21.52 in the 200 meters during a meet in Boston. LaMont moved to Texas after his running career. In 2015, he returned to New Jersey to launch the LaMont Smith Foundation to help students by providing school supplies, computers and tutoring to those who cannot afford them.