Some know Emmitt Smith as the National Football League's all-time leading rusher. Others recognize him as a three-time Super Bowl champion or a Dancing with the Stars winner. But do you really know who Emmitt is?
Until he traced his genealogy for the NBC reality series Who Do You Think You Are?, Emmitt says he didn't even know the answer to that question.
To find out more about himself and the family members who paved the way for his success, this hall-of-fame inductee followed his roots to Burnt Corn, Alabama, the town where his great-grandmother was born. "I feel like a detective on a hunt trying to find clues," he says.
In Burnt Corn, Emmitt wandered into a convenience store and asked a clerk if he knew two of his relatives, Bill and Victoria Watson. Coincidentally, Joe, the clerk, turned out to be Emmitt's second cousin.
Emmitt soon learned that his great-great-grandmother, Victoria, had an unusual maiden name—Puryear. Genealogist Marjorie Sholes told Emmitt that "Puryear" was probably the name of a slave owner. "African-Americans, at the end of the Civil War, sometimes picked the names of their last slave owner," she says.