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.