All The Way There and Back

Rykeiz Smith moves back to Texas after living in California for six years


Sam Freeman

Rykeiz Smith, 12, shoots for the basket during Legacy vs Everman game last season.

All of the bags were packed and stuffed into the trunk of the Smith family van, “Regina the Rendezvous.” Then, 8-year-old Rykeiz (Rocky) Smith started the 26-hour drive to move to Sacramento, California which he thought would be for good. Six years later and Rykeiz is playing NBA 2k18 with his friends on a Friday night when his mother told him that they were moving back to Texas before the next school year.

“The experience of moving back to Texas was pretty easy because we traveled a lot and drove,” Smith said. “It wasn’t very hard on me because I had already lived [in Texas] but I did miss California when we first moved [back to Texas].”

Smith’s family moved to California for work opportunities for Smith’s mother. His mother found work as a representative for the Alliance for Safety and Justice which works to reform criminal justice laws. She continued in the same profession when they moved back to Texas.

“We moved because my mom wanted to get out of Dallas,” Smith said. “Once she found work in California we settled down in Sacramento.”

Smith is a member of the basketball team and has been on varsity for the past two years. He likes the team’s chance of going all the way this year because of their talent and work ethic.

“[The basketball team] is good, and the chemistry and the culture of the team is great,” Smith said. “I think our chances are what we make them, so if we work hard then I think our chances are great.”

Smith enjoys singing, playing video games with friends, and playing pickup basketball.

“I used to be in Choir last year,” Smith said. “I was always interested in singing and people told me I had the talent so I joined the choir. I didn’t have enough time to stay in it, though.”

Smith became friends with Micah Juiye, 12, almost immediately after he moved back to Texas.

“I met Rocky my freshman year because he moved into the basketball class and he was my neighbor,” Juiye said. “We have been friends since.”

Juiye is also a member of the basketball team. They all had different reactions to finding out Rykeiz is in the choir.

“To be honest I was surprised [Smith] was in choir because I didn’t think he took singing seriously,” Juiye said. “I always knew he could sing but I never knew he wanted to do it on a serious level.”

Juiye found out about Rocky’s singing ability when hearing him mess around in the locker room. They have become close through school basketball, summer basketball, and working together at Whataburger.

“[The summer] was fun because we went to Vegas and had a great time out there,” Juiye said. “Work is better with Rocky working there because we make money together while getting closer as teammates.”

Smith is looking forward to having a great overall experience his senior year heading into college. There will be plenty of opportunities to try and impress college coaches and earn scholarships over the course of the year.

“I’ve been waiting on my senior year for a while because I’m more independent,” Smith said. “It’s a great transition year getting ready for college.”