ABA great Sam Smith dies waiting on pension from NBA

INDIANAPOLIS — When Sam Smith died in his modest home on the east side of Indianapolis, he died a man who not long before had swallowed his pride and made a phone call to ask for gas money. He died a man who had to make a call to ask for help with funeral expenses for his daughter.

He died a man who was an American Basketball Association player, a pioneer who blazed the trail for what the NBA is today.

But basketball ended for Smith. After winning an ABA championship with the Utah Stars, he got a job as a security supervisor at the Ford assembly plant in Indianapolis. Years passed. Times got harder. More years passed.

As Smith’s 50th reunion for his Kentucky Wesleyan NCAA Division II championship approached five years ago, he called the Dropping Dimes Foundation, which helps struggling ABA players and their families.

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