An unlikely Mormon: Former U. basketball star shares conversion story

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  • labeau ELY, NV
    Dec. 4, 2013 8:00 a.m.

    RBN, is that you Reid? Why didn't you say you named your son after him you thought so highly of him, Keep lifting weights, this old guy put up 350pd on a legal bench at 51 years of age. Love you and your family.

  • daver Provo, 00
    Nov. 27, 2013 2:38 p.m.

    Great story Trent. Teaches how we can gradually "un-learn" our preconceptions.

    Always enjoyed watching Mitch play. As a BYU alum, I've also been a fan of U of Utah sports.

  • 22ksb Holladay, UT
    Jan. 17, 2013 9:26 p.m.

    Interesting how stories of people "finding and converting to the church" are applauded while any story of someone leaving the church is shunned or probably never heard because the people leaving don't want to hear the ridicule. Whichever it is I think both stories deserve praise if the decision brings more happiness or contentment to people's lives.

    Jan. 17, 2013 4:55 p.m.

    Duckhunter, nice try pretending you actually know about every educational program at both schools. And it's actually a bachelor's program, not a master's program. I met with the program advisors and directors of each school extensively, I have close friends in each program I speak with weekly. The same program at BYU accepts 20-30 new students each semester and rarely rejects anybody, while the U's currently interviews over 60 per year and accepts 20 of them. The U's program has a national networking with direct grad school pipelines all throughout the southeast, midwest, and west coast. The majority of the Y's students continue grad school at BYU or begin entry level jobs. Yes, acceptance into the university is easier at Utah than BYU, but specific programs all have different requirements, and mine happens to be very selective. I was told before applying that I would begin the program once I was admitted at BYU, instead I underwent a 3 month interview process and am being set up with great career opportunities. Obviously someone like yourself that didn't attend either school isn't the best authority.

  • Duckhunter Highland, UT
    Jan. 17, 2013 11:09 a.m.


    I neither need nor care about having respect from utah "fans". What I find pathetic is LDS members that hate BY a great church institution.


    Nice try at pretending it is harder to get into a utah grad program than the same one at BYU. BYU has higher requirements all across the board. utah is actually a very easy school to get into, even its graduate programs. The requirements are mostly a joke.


    Jan. 16, 2013 3:51 p.m.


    The irony with your comments is that you always come across as a major Utah hater. Yet, you're all offended by anything that you perceive as being in anyway against BYU. You can't have it both ways. If you expect respect from Utah fans (or Utah "fans" as you call them), then you need to show them respect on your part.

    Jan. 16, 2013 2:21 p.m.

    Duckhunter, that's what you don't understand, is that I don't hate BYU. I have no problem with the school. I even considered attending BYU because my bachelor's program was much easier to get into there than Utah's. Of course, I worked hard enough and was fortunate to be accepted into Utah's program, so the rest, as they say, is history.

    No, an "unconflicted (sic)" member of the Church has no obligation to celebrate everything about BYU, especially sports, the most secular of all its programs. Sorry, but your apparent Max Hall mentality paints you as the same hypocrite that you preach nearly daily about.

  • Duckhunter Highland, UT
    Jan. 16, 2013 9:09 a.m.


    Of course you don't see it, you share his hate. To utah "fans" like the two of you all you see is "arrogance and self righteousness" from BYU fans and that leads you to hate the institution. It is obvious in your posts.

    The truth is BYU is one of the most important institutions of the church. You have a hard time reconciling your hate for that institution with your membership in the church itself. I find that pathetic.

    I certainly don't think you have to be a fan of BYU sports but the hate towards BYU and its teams is very telling.

    Any unconflicted member would celebrate everything about BYU. You don't, I've read your stuff.

  • Larry H Riverdale, UT
    Jan. 15, 2013 11:03 p.m.

    Red, what do you mean: "Yes, I know a ton of haters at Utah as well. But, most of them don't wear their religion on their sleeve!”

    I understand you are saying University of Utah "haters" are superior to BYU "haters", but I am unclear on "wear their religion on their sleeve". Would you please explain that to me? I have heard that kind of thing before but I have never quite figured out what the intended meaning(s)is (were).


    Oh, I should mention, I am old enough to control my emotions, so I doubt I will lose my temper over whatever you say, but, I AM a BYU grad (1978), in case that influences you one way or the other. I've never liked the level of animosity that has existed between BYU and the U of U; I would like to see it removed, or at least, diminished, but since each year brings a new group of very young, very emotional and very biased freshman kids to each school, I don't anticipate it will go away soon. Still, we can hope it gets a little better, right?

    Jan. 15, 2013 6:43 p.m.

    Duckhunter, I fail to see from Allen#2's comment any shred of "unmitigated hate for BYU" or any LDS institution, just a personal dislike for their football basketball teams. That says nothing about the Church's leadership or any individual at the school. However, your response seems to be exactly what he was talking about in that some fans take the school's association with the Church so far as to profess that not falling in love with everything there is to do with BYU is automatically a condemnation of the school, the Church and each and every one of its members. Frankly, it annoys me, too, but it doesn't make me hate my friends and family members who attend(ed)/like BYU and also act that way. It just makes for more fun conversation with them after the football game every year.

  • suzyk#1 Mount Pleasant, UT
    Jan. 15, 2013 6:03 p.m.

    To Allen#2 - there will always be those who deceive the truth by their actions, words. It's neat that you recognize these things which will help you to always shy away from the negativity. I was impressed with your comments....there will always be people who overdo the enthusiasm for what they think is the best - but isn't it wonderful to know you can choose who you want to be like and associate with whom you find uplifting and good company.

  • Duckhunter Highland, UT
    Jan. 15, 2013 3:53 p.m.


    I'm one of the active members of the lDS church that find the unmitigated hate for BYU, one of the most important insitutions of the church, from utah "fans" like yourself to be an embarrassment. I have known so many LDS utah "fans" who openly hate BYU and its athletic programs yet still profess to be good members. I feel pity for this poor souls, those that actually HATE an LDS institution, one that seeks to educate our LDS youth. It is a sad, sad thing.

  • USAlover Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 15, 2013 2:49 p.m.

    Man, reading some of these comments leads me to one conclusion: There are some really weird people out there.

    Love you Mitch!

  • RBN Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 15, 2013 1:45 p.m.

    Cinci Man:

    Please be nice. Contention is not of the Lord, right?

  • BleedCougarBlue Enid, OK
    Jan. 15, 2013 1:40 p.m.

    Article quote: “We didn’t know why we hated them ('Mormons')— we just did, and that’s how it was. I grew up persecuting them a bit.”

    Sadly, this happens far, far too much.

    I will say that one of the MOST pleasant and eye-opening experiences on my mission (Bible Belt....south Lousiana, south Mississippi and south Alabama....that's as 'Deep South' as you can get) was in personally meeting hundreds and HUNDREDS of good, God-fearing, Christians who were not members of the LDS faith.

    Good people and I love them even today, despite the fact that I've been home for over 20 years.

    Jan. 15, 2013 12:49 p.m.

    Universal Truth

    Salt Lake City, UT

    In response to Redweek: This was a great article, and it sounds like Mitch Smith was and is a great guy. But I would be shocked beyond belief if a coach were to say that he would prefer a player on an opposing team to the one on his team."

    You do remember who Michael Smith was right?

  • jjarseneau Salt Lake, UT
    Jan. 15, 2013 12:24 a.m.

    Lynn Archibald was a good man.

  • CougarBlue Heber City, UT
    Jan. 14, 2013 8:47 a.m.

    Great Story. Love and patience win out.

  • donn layton, UT
    Jan. 13, 2013 8:18 p.m.

    Cinci Man,"Jehovah is the English form of the actual name by which the Lord Jesus was known ANCIETLY “wrong,.
    The spelling Jehovah appeared first during the 1762-1769 editing of the KJV Bible. The transcription Jehovah is nothing but a misunderstanding by Christian translators of Jewish reading traditions." JS saw the KJV not Jesus.

    The KJV/3 Nephi Sermon on the Mount. LDS Scholar Dr. Larson finds 12 examples where JS copied the 1769 KJV errors.

    Mt 6:13 KJV and 3Nephi 13:13 Both have the doxology, For thine is he Kingdom and power and the glory forever amen. The KJV is based on 9th to 12th century texts. Earlier and better manuscripts do not contain the doxology. Only One example.

  • ed in atl Duluth, GA
    Jan. 13, 2013 3:37 p.m.

    I love uplifting conversion stories like this one of Mitch Smith. It helps strengthen my testimony. It shows how people were placed in his life for a reason, especially Coach LA. Everything happenes for a reason. And we have to continually "water" our testimonies as it is a process in keeping them strong.

  • Cinci Man FT MITCHELL, KY
    Jan. 12, 2013 9:50 p.m.

    To donn:

    Thanks for saying exactly what I said.

    "Jehovah is the English form of the actual name by which the Lord Jesus was known ANCIETLY (sp)"

    I'm so glad we can agree. Welcome back! Feel free to answer the questions if you can understand them.

  • donn layton, UT
    Jan. 12, 2013 2:51 p.m.

    TO: Cinci Man, I stand here in total shock that JS translated the Book of Mormon into English? Not my point. "From LDS revelation”, we learn that Jehovah is the English form of the actual name by which the Lord Jesus was known ANCIETLY) 788 Mormon Doctrine.Wrong, s/b YHWH.

  • Cinci Man FT MITCHELL, KY
    Jan. 11, 2013 9:59 p.m.


    I stand here in total shock that JS translated the Book of Mormon into English. I never would have imagined that. But I am not surprised that you could not answer my questions. I hope it works out for you. Even with all that you say against the Savior and His chosen prophets, the atonement will always be there for you. And you are welcome back any time and I would be the first to humbly welcome you with open arms. I met a man on my mission who left the Church under circumstances similar to yours. That was many years ago and he found his way back when he returned to principles taught by Moroni and other Book of Mormon and Bible prophets. Mitch and Cindy show a great example of just how the gospel and the Savior of the world can work for you. Best wishes always.

  • donn layton, UT
    Jan. 11, 2013 5:09 p.m.

    RE: Cinci man,I know that if you returned to doing just as Moroni, the prophet, promised, your testimony can return stronger than ever before.

    Moroni 10:34. Jehovah The Eternal Judge. Also From LDS revelation, we learn that Jehovah is the English form of the actual name by which the Lord Jesus was known ANCIETLY (D&C 110:3 ,Jehovah appears to JS, Abraham 2:8,My is name is Jehovah) 788 Mormon Doctrine. s/b YHWH, JS was unaware of the poor KJV translation of the Personal name of God(LORD)YHWH.

    The spelling Jehovah appeared first during the 1762-1769 editing of the KJV Bible. The transcription Jehovah is nothing but a misunderstanding by Christian translators of Jewish reading traditions

  • Susie_Hodson Kansas City, MO
    Jan. 11, 2013 11:11 a.m.

    What a beautiful story! Thank you, Mitch and Cindy for making my day!

  • Cinci Man FT MITCHELL, KY
    Jan. 11, 2013 11:02 a.m.

    Thanks for sharing your story too. I read the Book of Mormon almost every day and cannot figure out how anyone who reads and studies it like I do can come to any conclusion other than of its veracity and divine origins. Do you honestly believe that Joseph Smith could have made up the book? Or do you honestly believe Satan would do such a wonderful work in the earth in teaching true principles that advocate our becoming like Jesus Christ? I doubt that you would share the truth to theses questions with readers. Also, how many years before your defection did you quit reading, pondering, and praying about the Book of Mormon? I know that if you returned to doing just as Moroni, the prophet, promised, your testimony can return stronger than ever before. By the way, are you aware that the Book of Mormon supports the Bible and that the Bible supports the Book of Mormon? It takes effort and sincerity, and that's why the Church continues to grow.

  • USAlover Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 11, 2013 10:03 a.m.

    Mitch should be in the Utah Athletics Hall of Fame.

  • donn layton, UT
    Jan. 11, 2013 9:36 a.m.

    @Veracity,The Lords work continues...I got that feeling, the one you don’t want to admit, especially someone stubborn like me,” Smith said. “There was no chance of denying what I felt.”

    I got the opposite feeling that the church was not true when I had a Biblical conversion(Born from above) after 20 years and I left the church.

  • DEW Cougars Sandy, UT
    Jan. 11, 2013 9:11 a.m.

    I wonder if he plays church balls with his former utes players team agaisnt our former cougar players? Will Mitch would get his red blood against us? That would be cool what he could do or he woud be too light against our former cougar friends. Jeff Chatman and Josh Grant would love that. What do you think? I think Cindy would love that. You might want Jeff R. Holland to be the reffing.

  • Max Charlotte, NC
    Jan. 11, 2013 7:22 a.m.

    There is much I could write that others have already said, but the one thing that nobody has mentioned that really touched me was that Mitch's parents came to his baptism. We hear so much about parents who disown their kids for joining the church. I have never understood how a parent could do that and I half expected that to be the case here with his parents being so anti-LDS. However, as Mitch said, "THE LOVE OF A PARENT". Yes, I have to say they were misguided for openly shunning their LDS neighbors. That is a little over the top but they are obviously good, sincere people. It must have been very difficult for them but they love and support their son. Family first!

  • OCoug Ogden, UT
    Jan. 10, 2013 11:12 p.m.

    Benhur sounds like troll comment.

  • Benhur Everett, WA
    Jan. 10, 2013 9:14 p.m.

    It is always wonderful to hear about opposing players and fans that join the LDS church. However, once they are members, BYU should become the primary school they support and root for, above all other schools.

    Jan. 10, 2013 4:53 p.m.

    Thanks for the inspirational story showing that some non-LDS have good experiences at the University of Utah.

    I am one of the active members of the LDS Church who do NOT like BYU sports fans who give me the opinion that any active Mormon should be a fan of BYU football or basketball teams. Most of my former ward were BYU fans. My current ward has about equal number of BYU and Utah fans and there is a friendly rivalry without any openly hate filled comments.

    Many missionary companions were rabid BYU fans and they increased my personal dislike of BYU football and basketball. It is sad that another newspaper encourages hostility between the fans with "Holy War" comments whenever Utah and BYU play football against each other.

  • Shary Riverton, UT
    Jan. 10, 2013 3:44 p.m.

    My experience with Mitch was as my childhood best friend(almost like a brother). He and his family taught me to play sports and I grew up being rather tough, being a girl amongst all these boys in the neighborhood. My family joined the Church when I was 7, I don't think I was treated any different after that but I know the families that were members in our neighborhood it did cause problems. I know when I had my first car accident - it was Mitch's Dad who helped me and was always their to encourage me. Mitch and I grew apart in our teens, but once I knew he went to Utah, I knew their might be a chance for him to be converted and out of his family I felt he was the one that could be touched the most. I always kept an eye out of where he was hoping he would join the church. I am glad he found Cindy and she was SOOO PATIENT with him, I know I never was! It is amazing how the Lord touches someone and their family to bring them to his fold. The Lord moves in mysterious ways!

  • SamoanYfan WEST JORDAN, UT
    Jan. 10, 2013 2:11 p.m.


    I agree with you 100%...stop the hate. Your previous comment about knowing many BYU fans that are shallow and hypocritical haters was unnecessary and makes it out that you hate BYU just as much as any other hater...else you wouldn't have mentioned that at all, since this article has nothing to do with the BYU/Utah rivalry. It's a great article about conversion to the gospel. And I'm not hating, don't accuse me of it either.

  • Herbert Gravy Salinas, CA
    Jan. 10, 2013 1:43 p.m.

    May God bless all of you wonderful people.

  • Red Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 10, 2013 1:26 p.m.

    That was my point. I'm fine with everyone "wearing" their religion on their sleeve. I encourage it!

    Just stop being a hater!

  • fliebynight Billings, MT
    Jan. 10, 2013 1:19 p.m.

    The Archibalds moved into our neighborhood when Lynn joined the staff at the U of U and I became friends with one of his sons. I had the chance to be in their home on numerous occasions. Lynn truly was one of the classiest men I've ever known. He was always positive, always made you feel like you were the only person in the room, and his zest for life was infectious. This is a great article which shows the positive influence he had on Mitch and others. I love the last line. Lynn was a good coach, but he was a great man, and builder of great men.

  • Universal Truth Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 10, 2013 11:59 a.m.

    In response to Redweek: This was a great article, and it sounds like Mitch Smith was and is a great guy. But I would be shocked beyond belief if a coach were to say that he would prefer a player on an opposing team to the one on his team.

  • payara OREM, UT
    Jan. 10, 2013 11:52 a.m.

    thanks for sharing.Made my day

  • Redweek KIMBERLY, ID
    Jan. 10, 2013 11:39 a.m.

    I remember hearing Lynn Archibald being asked who he would rather have on his team, Mitch or Mike Smith (BYU's star player). Without hesistation and a wry smile he stated Mitch. Very inspiring and well written article. I have fond memories of the Mitch and Mike Smith rivalry. I also remember how devastated Mitch was on a TV interview when Archibald was fired after his senior season. Mitch had to have been the scrappiest player to play in a Utah uniform.

  • Lotsawata KAYSVILLE, UT
    Jan. 10, 2013 11:31 a.m.

    Great article...brought tears to my eyes as well. I'm a lifelong BYU fan and have to admit, don't cheer for the Utes much in anything. But as a member of the Church, I'll cheer for anyone (even in red) that is willing to listen to the Gospel--and ultimately the Spirit. Thanks for sharing.
    To "Red":
    Nice jab. Unfortunately there are fans of both schools that are not sympathetic in any way to the other. When you state, "...I know a ton of haters at Utah as well. But, most of them don't wear their religion on their sleeve!" You are right. Instead many of them spend an inordinate amount of time and energy making fun of; disrespecting; and, tearing down the Mormon religion.

    The phrase "wear _____ on their sleeve" means to wear or display something openly. This is exactly what the Church teaches is to be open and deliberate in our beliefs, morals, and actions. Ironically, this was a factor in Mitch Smith's conversion over the years. The members were deliberate and open.

  • RBN Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 10, 2013 10:30 a.m.

    Mitch sells himself short. Our family has known Mitch since his first days in Utah. When he came to Utah he was polite,kind,and without ego. It was easy to see that his parents had raised him well. I think that upbringing, and particularly his humble nature, prepared him to accept the gospel at a later time.

    Mitch and Cindy, you're the best.

  • NT SomewhereIn, UT
    Jan. 10, 2013 10:26 a.m.

    Wow. Thanks for sharing that truly inspirational story of conversion. Powerful.

  • AlisonB Peoria, AZ
    Jan. 10, 2013 9:58 a.m.

    For the first ten years of my life, I lived next door to the Smith family. Reading this story makes my heart beat fast, and my eyes fill with tears! Our family was the only LDS family in the cul-de-sac of seven families when we moved in, and while it was difficult to have neighbors that disliked us simply because of our religion, my parents were such a powerful influence for good. In our home, our convictions became stronger and our love for our Savior became deeper. Including Mitch's family, four of those families today are now very active members of the church and are among some of the finest people I know. I don't remember the last time I saw Mitch, but over the years I've heard bits and pieces of this story, much to my delight. Mitch's story reminds me that as devoted members of the church, the "seeds" that we plant along our life's journey, are never EVER wasted! What a beautiful story and officially one of my most favorite conversion stories ever.

  • Cougar Passion Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 10, 2013 9:55 a.m.

    I'd like to make a couple of disparate points. One is that Elder Holland is right about the Lord putting people in the right situations. I am convinced my wife would not have joined the Church for many years if she had not first lived in a small branch with a concentration of high-quality members as opposed to seeing the spectrum that exists in most wards.

    The second point is in response to "Red". It is not my point to start a fight here, but this is worth noting. I did not grow up in Utah and, despite being a passionate BYU fan, actively cheered for Utah any time they didn't play BYU, even when they were in the NCAA Championship game under Rick Majerus. But my perspective changed dramatically when I moved to Utah. Now if I wear BYU apparel, I am routinely bothered specifically by fellow LDS who are Utah fans--the non-LDS have the sense to not worry about it, it seems. It seems a very strange thing to me that Mormons would bother other Mormons about supporting the school that has Church leadership as the Board of Trustees.

  • Veracity Morgan, UT
    Jan. 10, 2013 9:49 a.m.

    The Lords work continues...

  • utahcountyute Cedar Hills, UT
    Jan. 10, 2013 9:18 a.m.

    My 2 brothers and I were playing the back 9 at Glendale in the late 90's one evening. We had a Smith "single" to join us. Turned out to be Mitch who was in town in the off season. We had a fun round and it was interesting to pick his brain a bit about Ute bball. He was as crazy good as they come around the boards.

    I had no idea that he was a convert to the church. Great story.

    Thanks for sharing Mitch and Cindy.

  • Chris Degn Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 10, 2013 9:12 a.m.

    The last little paragraph says it all. A man with priorities. Good stuff!

  • Red Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 10, 2013 8:59 a.m.

    Great Story! Thanks so much for sharing it.

    I am so glad to see how people can change for the better. We are all in this together.

    President Uchtdorf said it best, We all are on the same team and wear the same jersey.

    I am a UTE, but I know so many BYU fans who are haters of the U. Or haters of other schools as well. It is so shallow and hypocritical to hate anyone.

    Yes, I know a ton of haters at Utah as well. But, most of them don't wear their religion on their sleeve!

    We all need to learn to work together to make life great.

    Haters on both sides please stop hating. The world is full of problems. It is time to rise above the world!!!

    Good work Mitch. Love the story. Great job to your wife and family for hanging in there.

  • CWEB Orem, UT
    Jan. 10, 2013 8:39 a.m.

    Tears. Touching story. The Lord knows who we are. We don't always.

  • Cinci Man FT MITCHELL, KY
    Jan. 10, 2013 6:20 a.m.

    This is an amazing story. Mitch is an amazing man. Cindy is an amazing woman. The kids are amazing kids. The Spirit is an amazing force. Congratulations on your eternal family! And thanks for sharing your tender, though challenging road, with us. "Sweet is the peace the gospel brings."