DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — Deion Sanders is an Atlanta sports legend, a multi-talented athlete and college football head coach. He has more than just a physical connection to Atlanta, he has a spiritual one.
Dr. E. Dewey Smith serves as Sanders's spiritual counselor while serving as pastor of House of Hope Atlanta in DeKalb County. When Sanders's former pastor in Texas passed away from COVID in 2020, he called on Smith to step in.
"We know him from high-stepping from Tallahassee to Atlanta, the Cowboys, 49ers," Smith said about Sanders. "We've known you for your steps. It won't be your steps, it'll be your sound. He wants somebody to sharpen him the way he's been sharpened athletically with coaches and trainers. He desires the same thing even more spiritually."
Smith was seen walking side-by-side with Sanders on the sidelines. Smith said Sanders lives his faith out loud, with Prime's steps and his words combatting the criticism he's faced over the years.
"People look at him and they look at this image, and sometimes this caricature they've created based on the image of Primetime versus Deion, not really understanding all the marketing nuances, his ability to work with the media," Smith said. "There's a reason why he does that. What he's doing now is no surprise."
Sanders gained fame as a head coach at the historically Black college Jackson State University. After less than three seasons there, he went to the University of Colorado, bringing his sons and other top recruits to a program that won just one game a season ago to build something new.
He recently battled hereditary blood clots and had them removed earlier this summer.
"I told him a couple of years ago, 'God is raising you, I believe, to be a Nehemiah,'" Smith said. "God is calling you to places that seemingly are in ruins to rebuild the city, fortify areas that have been torn down."
Smith said the secret to Sanders's success was his confidence and belief that he will succeed at every level. Smith said Sanders's next step on his road to building success is to become the first Black Power 5 head coach to win a College Football Playoff National Championship.
“People have always loved and respected him for years athletically, and he has a magnetic personality," Smith said. "To see him on that sideline, he literally believes that all things are possible. I don't know what the future holds or where he may end up, but what I do know – without a shadow of a doubt – he's going to be successful wherever he goes."