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January 16, 2009

Keenan graduate tours with Tina Turner

By Pamela Edwards pamedwardse@sc.rr.com

Justice Smith on tour with Tina Turner

When the American Gladiator show got a call looking for a "Justice type" to tour with Tina Turner, Justice Jesse Smith, an exact "Justice Type," returned the call, not sure if it was for real or someone was kidding around.

Justice was told no audition was necessary and to be in Kansas City for rehearsals with Tina September 1, 2008. They rehearsed for a month then went on the road with Tina's North American Tour in the U.S. and Canada.

Justice who is 6'8" 290 pounds has family in Columbia and spent many of his early years here. His father was in the military, and he was eight years old when they moved to Germany.

The family moved back to Columbia when Justice was in the tenth grade. He played basketball for Keenan High School helping the team become State Champs in 1991 when he was junior.

Justice attended the University of Tennessee on a basketball scholarship. He later transferred to Alcorn State in Mississippi where he studied Animal Science/Pre- Vet and playing basketball.

When asked if he has used his degree in any part of his life, Justice laughed and said, "with my own animals." He said he would like to go back into animal medicine one day, but for now life has led him down the acting road.

After college Justice played professional basketball in Switzerland for four years. While in Europe he says he was bitten by the acting/modeling bug. After returning to the States, he signed a one-year modeling contract in Colorado. He learned the business and how to overcome his shyness.

Justice says he wanted to see how things were done in California so he took a week-long trip to Los Angeles and signed an acting deal within three days working in commercials, with a few television and movie spots. He has been in commercials for Coors Light, Nike, Adidas, Pepsi, and Heineken Super Hero averaging about four commercials a year.

Some TV and movie spots include Gilmore Girls; 10-8: Officers on Duty; Like Mike; Battle Dome; Blood and Bone; The Mannsfield 12; Beyond the Ring; and Duel of Legends.

He worked in World Entertainment Wrestling wrestling, Tough Enough, Battle Dome, Wor ld Wrestling Federation Smackdown, then on to American Gladiator for two seasons.

Justice says his heroes growing up were Arnold Schwarzenegger and his father. He was always taller than everyone else growing up so he began working out. He said that if I was going to be tall I was going to be big.

His background is in athletics and martial arts, Tae Kwon Do, Thai Kickboxing (cage and stand up) K-1. Justice says when Tina Turner met him her first words were "He is a big one!"

Justice left with Tina Turner's European tour January 10, the first stop Germany. In the show, he plays a gladiator/dancer of "The Ninjas," a muscular, all-male acrobatic/dance troupe. His costume includes a huge Mohawk, shoulder pads, and a loincloth.

Justice says Tina is "extremely good" to her people. She appreciates them and makes sure they stay in first class accommodations, first class everything. He couldn't say enough about what a great person Tina Turner is.

Justice has established justicesmith.com for children. He wants to encourage kids to find the "Super Hero" inside themselves. He would like to do a 50 city school tour to encourage kids to work hard to achieve their goals working with them to improve nutrition and physical fitness perhaps through local gyms in Columbia.

Justice has achieved big dreams but feels he is simply doing a job just like anybody else. When people yell and scream and applaud him, he really doesn't understand what the fuss is all about. He says, "I'm just Justice."

Editor's note: Justice Smith plans on staying in touch with Pamela Edwards at The Columbia Star while he is in Europe to keep her updated and to send pictures of the European Tour. Watch for more on Justice's career and tour with Tina Turner.

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