Nolan Smith: Early Life, NBA & Marriage

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Nolan is an assistant coach for men’s basketball at the Louisville Cardinals, who started as a NBA basketball player.

Smith’s high basketball IQ and excellent ball security allow him to run an offense with the ball in his hands efficiently. He’s a capable outside shooter but at his best when someone creates open looks for him.

The player’s awareness allows him to read defenses and make the right pass at the right time. Defensively, Nolan’s best qualities revolve around his length, intelligence, and effort.

Nolan Smith, an American Basketball Player
Nolan Was Picked By Portland Trail Blazers In The 2011 NBA Draft (Source: Wikipedia)

Want to know more about Nolan Smith? If yes, hurry up and read the entire article! However, first, have a look at some quick facts about Smith. 

Quick Facts

Full Name Nolan Derek Smith
Birth Date July 25, 1988 
Birth Place Louisville, Kentucky
Ethnicity Afro-American 
Religion Christianity
Nationality American
High School Oak Hill Academy
College Duke University
Playing Career 2011-2015
Zodiac Leo
Chinese Zodiac Dragon
Father’s Name Derek Smith
Mother’s Name Monica Smith
Siblings One Sister (Sydney Smith)
Age 35 Years Old
Height 6’2″/ 1.88 m/ 188 cm
Weight 84 kg/ 185 lb.
NBA Draft Round: 1, Pick: 21st overall, 2011 
Shoots Right
Food Habits Non-Vegetarian
Hair Color Black
Eye Color Dark Brown
Build Athletic
Marital Status Married
Wife Cheyna Smith
Children Two
Jersey Number 4
Coaching Career 2016-Present
Position Assistant Coach
League ACC
Net Worth $2-$3 Million
Annual Salary $400k
Social Media Instagram, Twitter
Merch  Cards
Last Update April 2024

Early Life & Family

Nolan Smith, the NBA player, was born on July 25, 1988, in Louisville, Kentucky. Hence, his nationality is American.

His father’s name is Derek Smith, and his mother’s name is Monica Smith. Nolan also has one elder sister named Sydney Smith.

Nolan Smith With His Parents & Sister
Nolan Smith With His Parents & Sister (Source: ESPN)

Nolan’s father was a 1980 NCAA championship team member that defeated UCLA while playing basketball at Louisville. He played nine years in the NBA.

Death Of Nolan’s Father

Nolan’s father, Derek, went on a cruise on the Norwegian Cruise Line ship MS Dreamward for Bullets and Capitals season ticket holders in August 1996. He also brought his family with him.

During the cruise, Derek and then-Bullets player Tim Legler volunteered to hold basketball clinics.

Derek suffered an apparent massive heart attack during a cocktail party in the presence of his team members on August 9, 1996.

At that time, the ship was near Bermuda and returning to New York City. Ship medics tried for 25 minutes to resuscitate him. However, they could not save him.  

At that time, Nolan was only 8 years old, and his father was his hero, and horrifyingly death of his father left a deep scar on his life. 

High School Career

Nolan played varsity basketball for The Key School in Annapolis, Maryland as an eighth-grader. After that, he transferred to St. John’s College High School in Washington, D.C., for his freshman season in 2003–04.

The player was a third-team all-conference selection at St. John’s. He attended Riverdale Baptist School in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, as a sophomore in 2004–05. Smith led Riverdale to a 33–1 record. 

Nolan attended Oak Hill Academy in the Mouth of Wilson, Virginia, for his junior and senior years. The player was a two-year captain and played alongside several future NBA players, including Ty Lawson, Michael Beasley, and Brandon Jennings.

In 2005–06, he led Oak Hill to a 40–1 overall record and a final USA Today No. 2 national ranking by averaging 17 points, five rebounds, five assists, and two steals per game. 

College Career

Nolan started 37 games as a senior in 2010–11. He was named the school’s 12th ACC Player of the Year after becoming the 11th Duke player to lead the league in scoring.

The player was also nominated for the Naismith Trophy, the Wooden Award, the Oscar Robertson Trophy, and the Bob Cousy Award. 

Nolan scored 34 points in a home win over No. 20 North Carolina on February 9, 2011, making a career-high 13 field goal attempts.

Along with fellow senior Kyle Singler, Smith served as team captain in 2010–11. He became only the ninth player under Mike Krzyzewski, averaging more than 20.0 points per game. 

His 764 points in 2010–11 were the ninth-highest single-season total and the 19th time a Duke player scored 700 or more.

Professional NBA Career

The Portland Trail Blazers selected Nolan with the 21st overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft. He signed his rookie scale contract with the Trail Blazers on December 9, 2011.

He played 44 games (four starts) as a rookie, averaging 3.8 points, 1.4 assists, and 1.3 rebounds in 12.3 minutes per game. Nolan was assigned to the NBA Development League’s Idaho Stampede on January 6, 2013.

After appearing in both of Idaho’s games at the 2013 NBA D-League Showcase in Reno, the Trail Blazers recalled the player on January 9.

Smith joined the Boston Celtics for the 2013 NBA Summer League in July 2013, playing one game and scoring four points. 

Nolan Smith Playing Basketball
Nolan Smith Playing basketball (Source: Wikipedia)

Nolan signed a one-year contract with Cedevita Zagreb of the Croatian League on August 18, 2013.

He signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder for the 2014 NBA Summer League in July 2014, averaging 4.6 points, 1.4 rebounds, and 2.0 assists in five games.

The player signed a one-year contract with Galatasaray Liv Hospital of the Turkish Basketball League on August 29, 2014. However, on October 27, 2014, he parted ways with Galatasaray. 

Nolan was acquired by the NBA Development League’s Delaware 87ers on November 26, 2014. The 87ers waived him on January 15, 2015, officially ending his playing career. 


  • During his college years, Nolan was well-liked by his teammates. Everyone gravitated towards Nolan in the locker room due to his passion for the game and ability to remain energetic and loose in high-pressure situations.
  • Nolan received much media attention in the country after hitting a buzzer-beater three-pointer with 0.6 seconds left in the ABA League Final Four semi-final.
  • His act had secured his team’s spot in the 2014–15 Euroleague and left Serbian legendary club Partizan out of the Euroleague for the first time in 14 years. 
  • On October 19, 2014, while being subbed out in a Turkish League game against Banvit, the player threw a towel, prompting head coach Ergin Ataman to expel him from the arena. Later, he apologized for the incident.


  • Croatian League champion, Croatian Cup champion, and Croatian League All-Star (2014)
  • NCAA champion (2010)
  • Consensus first-team All-American, ACC Player of the Year, First-team All-ACC, ACC All-Defensive Team (2011)
  • Second-team All-ACC (2010)
  • McDonald’s All-American, First-team Parade All-American (2007)

Coaching Career

Nolan joined the Duke Blue Devils coaching staff as a special assistant on February 22, 2016.

In March 2018, he was promoted to basketball operations and player development director. Likewise, in April 2021, he was named an assistant coach. 

The former player, reporting to Kenny Payne, joined the Louisville Cardinals coaching staff on April 4, 2022.

Derek Smith, Smith’s father, also played at Louisville and was a member of the 1980 championship team.

Body Features Of Smith

Nolan Smith, a former NBA player, has a strong body and an athletic build. The player weighs around 84 kg. Likewise, Smith has a height of 1.88 m. 

The player is 35 years old. He was born in the Dragon year according to the Chinese calendar. Similarly, Smith’s zodiac sign is Leo.


Nolan says he likes to express himself by getting inked up. Whenever a new idea hits the player’s mind, he gets a tattoo. As a result, the player’s body is inked with many tattoos.

Nolan got his first tattoo when he was 16 years old. He wanted to do something for his dad and remember him forever.

So, he asked his mother if he could get a tattoo of his dad on his arm. Monica never liked the idea of putting ink on the body. However, she agreed. 

Nolan Smith Tattoo Got His First Tattoo At 16
Nolan Smith Has A Tattoo Of Derek Smith (Source: ESPN)

The player has the portrait of his father inked on his right biceps with the words “Forever Watching” written above it. 

The player has another tattoo on his chest that says “Family 1st”. He also has another tattoo of the world with the words Monica and Sydney written above and below it. 

Nolan also has another tattoo that reads, “Built to Win.” Similarly, his other tattoo reads, “Never be denied.” The player also has a Final 4 Logo on his stomach.

The Story Of The Smiths

The couple first met when Cheyna was a freshman at the University of North Carolina, and Nolan was a senior at Duke University.

On February 2, 2011, Nolan had just finished playing a basketball game in Maryland when a fan from the opposing team tweeted something extremely derogatory about him.

Cheyna happened to see the Tweet and immediately Tweeted back about how rude and uncalled-for his message was. She was half asleep later that night when she heard her phone ring.

Nolan had slipped into her Twitter DMs to thank her for defending him, although they didn’t know each other. He joked about how Duke and Carolina were rivals, and one thing led to another.


In 2015, Chenya told Nolan that she wanted them to do a Christmas photoshoot with their new puppy, Kobe, whom they had gotten earlier that year.

Nolan let her choose where she wanted to go, and they went to the Duke Gardens, Duke Chapel, and Cameron Indoor Stadium. 

The couple went to Duke Gardens first, then to the Chapel. Cheyna remembers that the humidity had destroyed her hair by that point, so she was ready to quit and forget Cameron. However, Nolan insisted that they had to do it since he had already paid.

When the couple arrived at Cameron, Nolan said he needed to “use the restroom,” which was his way of stalling until the family and friends came.

When they walked into Cameron, the lights were turned off. Just then, Nolan grabbed Cheyna and held on tight, kissing her and refusing to let go.

When Nolan let go, Cheyna turned to see her family and friends. Nolan was down on one knee, and the rest is history.

Marital Life

The couple married in August 2017, six years after their first meeting. The high school sweethearts were united with a sentimental and modern wedding at Duke University.

Their honeymoon destination was Jamaica & Cayman Islands. Nolan and his wife, Cheyna, have two children together.

Nolan Smith Enoying In The Pool With His Wife
Nolan Smith Enoying In The Pool With His Wife, Cheyna Bonita Elliott (Source: Instagram)

Their first child was a girl whom they named Camryn Smith. Likewise, their second child was a boy they named Derek Indy Smith.

Of course, the first name honors Nolan’s father. “Indy” is Duke’s home away from home, having hosted three national championships, including the first in 1991 and the last in 2015.

Net Worth

According to a signed offer letter obtained by the Courier-Journal through an open records request, Nolan Smith, as Payne’s first assistant, will earn $400k in base salary.

He will also receive a $500 monthly stipend for a car. Nolan signed the offer letter on April 6, 2022 including a family membership to the University of Louisville Golf Club.

The player is eligible for up to $15k in moving costs and 30 days of temporary housing.

Apart from this, the player also made a hefty sum during his professional NBA career. His estimated net worth is $2-$3 million as of 2024. 

Search Graph

Nolan is famous as a basketball player, as shown by his popularity graph.

Search Graph Illustration Of Nolan Smith
Popularity Graph Of Nolan Smith (Source: Google Trend)

The graph illustrates the search rate for the past 12 months.

Social Media

Nolan is active on Twitter and Instagram with huge following above 90k followers.

He mostly uploads updates about his matches and endorsements on his social media platforms.

  • Instagram: 96.6k followers
  • Twitter: 91.1k followers

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Did Derek Smith and Nolan Smith win the same championship?

Yes, Derek Smith and Nolan Smith won NCAA Championships in the same city, 30 years apart. Derek won the championship in 1980, whereas Nolan won it in 2010. Like father, like son!

How many years did Nolan Smith play in the NBA?

The former NBA player Nolan Smith played in the NBA for roughly three years (2011-2013).


Aayusha Bhattarai

Aayusha Bhattarai is a dedicated writer with a passion for uncovering the fascinating stories behind athletes' lives. With a keen eye for detail and a knack for storytelling, she brings readers on a journey through the triumphs, struggles, and inspirations of their favorite players.


Athlete Profiles Net Worth


  • Aayusha explores the off-field lives of athletes, from their hobbies and interests to their family dynamics.
  • She keeps readers informed with the latest news and developments in the world of sports.


Aayusha's passion for sports journalism stems from her love of both writing and athletics. With a background in journalism and a keen interest in sports, she combines her talents to deliver compelling stories that resonate with readers.

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