Editorial: Despite mistakes, young Devin Schmidt can still reach his potential

Apr. 11, 2013 @ 11:58 PM

Some people expect their sports heroes to be perfect individuals, free of problems and incapable of bad judgment. If only that were true. Those who are gifted in any endeavor, whether athletics, academics or leadership, are as flawed as the rest of us. They make mistakes, make bad decisions and reveal weaknesses.

There have been few basketball players in our local high schools as talented as Devin Schmidt. He could do it all. He could score, direct the offense, seemingly make baskets whenever he felt like it. He is an amazing talent on the basketball floor. And flawed like everybody else.

The Sevier County High School senior was leading his team on what had the makings of the school’s best boys basketball season in years, maybe ever. Other teams targeted him, but couldn’t stop him. Devin Schmidt was one fine basketball player.

Then he made a mistake. A big one. He was accused of domestic violence against his girlfriend, following a regional tournament game. His arrest led to his dismissal from the team. Sevier County managed an emotional win over Dobyns-Bennett, then lost in Oak Ridge to end its season.

Life for Schmidt has been rocky since his February arrest. Now his judicial issues are behind him. He entered deferral pleas this week to charges of domestic assault and criminal trespass related to his going into the middle school gym one Sunday. His lawyer, Bryan Delius, who’s one of the area’s best defense attorneys, negotiated the pleas. Schmidt has things to do, such as attend a batterers intervention class and do some community service, but if he does what he has agreed to do, in a year his record will be cleared.

Schmidt paid a hefty price for his mistakes. Punishment doesn’t always have to mean jail time. The 18-year-old has almost his whole life ahead to make good on his promise to the court to straighten up. Perhaps most encouraging of all, Delta State University, which had offered him a basketball scholarship before his troubles, will keep its commitment to him, Delius said. That is good news indeed.

Schmidt made some big mistakes, and he has paid for those mistakes. But they don’t have to define him, and they do not have to be a continuous burden. His mistakes were played out for the public to see. His notoriety as an athlete made him such a public figure that when he messed up, it was news.

However, as he prepares to earn his diploma and head off to college, he is a young man with much potential and such a great opportunity to become the kind of person to make his family, his peers and his community proud.