CLEVELAND, Ohio -- University of Michigan women's track and field athlete Joi Smith(Cleveland, Ohio/Collinwood) passed away Saturday evening (Nov. 17) after a nine-month battle with cancer.
"She is hard to put into words," said women's track and field head coach James Henry. "She was a good person with a good family. She is the type of athlete that we have been successful with at the University of Michigan. She was someone with high goals -- an overachiever whose life was cut short."
Smith started on the track team as a freshman specializing in hurdles, jumps and sprints, and ran the 60-meter hurdles at the 2006 Big Ten Indoor Championships. Competing in her first pentathalon as a sophomore, Smith placed third at the Simmons/Harvey Invitational (Jan. 19-20, 2007).
While practicing to compete in the 2007 Big Ten Indoor Championships last February, Smith endured tremendous abdominal pain. Days later, she was diagnosed with a rare form of muscle cancer called alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma. Due to her illness, Smith was forced to forego track. She spent the past months traveling back and forth from her native Cleveland to Ann Arbor, having doctors from both areas working on her treatment.
Since academics were of utmost importance to her, she enrolled in two courses during the past spring term -- one in math and one in English.
Prior to enrolling at U-M, Smith attended Collinwood High School, where she was an honor student, a member of National Honor Society, and the 2005 scholar-athlete for the city of Cleveland.
Donations to help with medical and funeral costs can be made by sending a check (made out to: Benefit Melvin Smith & Family) to:
Cleveland Police Credit Union
2300 Payne Ave.
Cleveland, OH 44114
Cards may be sent to the family at:
June and Melvin Smith
16603 Invermere Ave
Cleveland, OH 44128
Contact: Stacey Schwartz (734) 647-4423