When I look around, there is nothing I want more than to see our neighborhoods through the innocent lens of my childhood. However, I can’t do that. We have tremendous opportunities in District 8 and – with your support – I am committed to tackling them.
JB Smiley, Jr. is a Democrat and native Memphian with a heart for people and a passion for service. After growing up in South Memphis and Bartlett, he attended Bolton High School where he was a scholar and standout athlete. The All-Shelby Metro basketball star attended Tennessee Technological University briefly before graduating from the University of Pikeville in Kentucky. Shortly after graduation, Smiley enjoyed a brief semi-pro basketball career before choosing a much different route.
“I knew I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. While basketball was fun and personally fulfilling for a few years, I knew that I had more work to do.”
Smiley set out to pursue a career as a lawyer. While at the University of Arkansas – Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law, he confirmed his purpose. During his time there, Smiley served as a member of the Law Review, Moot Court board, and Vice President of the Black Law Students Association.
Upon graduating and passing both the Arkansas and Tennessee Bar Exams, he went on to practice law at one of the largest law firms in Arkansas while simultaneously writing his first book: Born With It: Unleashing Your Greatness.
While Arkansas offered him professional opportunities and connections, it was his hometown that continued to pull at his heart’s strings. His family home was located in the heart of the city’s poorest zip code and surrounded by blight and hopelessness. He received near daily calls from Memphians who were referred to him to request help with securing a job, saving their home, or protecting a loved one as they navigated the criminal justice system.
He knew he wanted to help these individuals, their families, and the neighborhoods they call home, so Smiley packed up and returned to his hometown with a commitment to bring about significant change for his neighbors. He opened Smiley & Associates, a law practice that works primarily to serve individuals and small business owners throughout Shelby County. He’s also a founding member of S & F Unlimited, LLC – a small group of investors committed to addressing neighborhood blight while preserving local small businesses.
In 2017, Smiley hosted a Health & Resource Fair at the Gaston Community Center, where he connected residents in District 8 with free health services, on-the-spot job opportunities, and youth engagement opportunities. He is a part of the STS Enterprise youth mentoring network and a member of the National Bar Association – Ben F. Jones Chapter, NAACP, and Soulsville Neighborhood Association. JB Smiley, Jr. is also a lifelong member of New Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church.