From the NFL to Sleeping in a Car to Jail and Now Helping Others, Aldon Smith Is Evolving

“I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to grow as a person, developing a relationship with myself that continues to evolve," Aldon said.

Brandon Charles - Author

Mar. 12 2024, Published 10:42 a.m. ET

Aldon Smith on the Dallas Cowboys in 2020.
Source: Getty

With each spring and the NFL Draft there’s a renewed interest in pro football could-have-beens. One such case involves a former first round pick, All-Pro, Pro Bowler and defensive end with the San Francisco 49ers, Oakland Raiders, and Dallas Cowboys.

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From the gridiron to homeless, back to the gridiron, to imprisonment, to life coaching, Aldon Smith has been through the wringer. He went from seventh overall pick to playing in the Super Bowl to serious jail time for multiple DUIs.

What happened, and where is he now?

Aldon Smith on the Dallas Cowboys in 2020.
Source: Getty
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What happened to Aldon Smith? He was on track to become an NFL legend.

Aldon Smith’s first few seasons in the league were something out of a storybook. As a rookie, he set a team record for sacks by a rookie, and the following season he set the team record for sacks, earning a spot on the All-Team and Pro Bowl.

If you didn’t pay attention to the off-field issues, you may not know why the 49er signed with the Raiders for the 2015 season, was suspended for the entire 2016 and 2017 seasons, had a pretty stellar season with the Cowboys in 2020, and was signed and cut by the Seahawks before even playing a snap.

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Aldon Smith speaking to his teammates in 2020.
Source: Getty

Aldon's off-field issues are why he was off the field for so long.

Unfortunately, between his rookie and second season, Aldon was arrested for the first of many times. He was arrested for a DUI in January 2012, another DUI in September 2013, possession of an assault weapon in October 2013, an arrest at LAX in April 2014, another DUI in August 2015, a domestic violence misdemeanor in March 2018, another DUI in June 2019, second degree battery in April 2021, and finally another DUI in December 2021. In the midst of this, Aldon was temporarily homeless.

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The last DUI led to Aldon sentenced to a year long stay at the San Mateo County Jail and five years of probation. He was released after 6 months of his 12-month term on Oct. 4, 2023. A week later he went on fellow former NFL’er Brandon Marshall’s podcast I Am Athlete. On the episode, Aldon said he was done with football.

Source: YouTube
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Aldon is two years in on his road to recovery.

On Dec. 7, 2023 Aldon shared the positive news that he was celebrating two years of sobriety. “Today marks my two-year sobriety birthday,” the post begins. “These past two years have been the most challenging yet rewarding of my life. I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to grow as a person, developing a relationship with myself that continues to evolve.”

Aldon goes on to credit forces “greater than oneself” and, essentially, the power of positivity. The post features supportive comments from fans, fellow former jocks and one reporter that covered Aldon when he was with the 49ers.

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“That’s amazing. I covered Aldon briefly when I worked as a sports writer during his time with the 49ers,” @alexis.terrazas writes. “I was always amazed by his ability on the field. Then the off-the-field issues came to light. I’m happy you’re sober. Really proud of you.”

Source: Instagram @aldonsmith
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Aldon is currently working as a recovery coach and as a professional speaker. His company, Intelligent Movement, offers both services. The name of his company is explained on the company site.

“Before becoming your favorite player, athletes have navigated the complexities of life, facing challenges that have shaped their character and influenced their decision-making," reads the About Me section. "Just like anyone else, athletes come from diverse backgrounds, some more difficult than others, and making INTELLIGENT MOVES isn't always our first consideration. We, too, are shaped by our upbringing, our communities, and the circumstances that surround us.”

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