US volleyball star revels as role model for deaf kids

Growing up nearly completely deaf provided a challenge for David Smith as he tried to integrate with other kids at school or on the playground. Whatever Smith may have lacked in hearing was more than made up with empathy, compassion and most of all athletic ability. Smith was born nearly deaf with 80-90% hearing loss but has managed to overcome that to become an elite athlete competing in his third Olympics for the U.S. men’s volleyball team.

“Sports were definitely a confidence booster for me,” Smith said. “It was something I thrived at despite having quote unquote a disadvantage. I think for me personally, that was great for my mental understanding of who I am and what I can do, but I think it was also a unique way of me integrating myself with the normal hearing world.”

While Smith may struggle to have normal conversations as he relies on hearing aides and lip reading to communicate, he never had any limitations when it came to sports. The boy who wanted a ball of some kind as a gift at nearly every birthday and holiday was a star athlete at an early age before starting to focus on volleyball as he got to high school.