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Fort Wayne football star turned Dallas Cowboy: Jaylon Smith makes his mark off the field

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Fort Wayne's NBC)- Former Bishop Luer football player, Jaylon Smith has business that he hopes will change the community.

Smith was featured on The Today Show Friday, talking about his business MEI or Minority Entrepreneurship Institute. It connects investors with minority owned investment opportunities.

"You look at all this fortune five hundred companies, billionaires, majority are white males so for me its about attacking that and being able to close that gap," Smith said during his Today Show interview.

For his long time friend back here in Fort Wayne, Deaundre Muhammad, he says he is doing just that.

"I think that knowing him before its just a blessing to sit back and watch him achieve the things that he desired to achieve and along the journey just impact other people," Muhammad said.

Muhammad knew Smith before he went to Notre Dame. He said working with him inspired him to build his business, Traction Athletic Performance. It helps push young athletes to places where they can make a difference in the community.

"When you look at Jaylon he's like the ideal representation of what we want to develop and it doesn't mean that you have to be a professional athlete, it just means you have to do service beyond yourself and utilize athletics as a platform to go to where you want to go to to really help other people," Muhammad said.

Smith's former coach at Bishop Luers, Steven Keefer said he is proud of Smith's accomplishments.

"He was always a hard worker, after the games that year I used to follow him off the field and I watch him interact with the little kids who would come up and fans and Notre Dame people, and he's charismatic and has a good rapport with people," Keefer said.

Now he's using that rapport to inspire business leaders. On the MEI website, anyone can apply to be considered to pitch a business or social enterprise to Smith, during a showcase in July.

Arielle Cadet

Arielle Cadet joined WPTA in August 2019. The Atlanta, Georgia native graduated from the University of Missouri and serves as Weekend Anchor/MMJ for ABC21. Feel free to connect with her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, or shoot her an email at

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