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Former Panthers player Steve Smith will fund new behavioral health center in Charlotte

Former Carolina Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith address Mecklenburg County Commissioners on Jan. 27, 2022.
Mecklenburg County
Former Carolina Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith address Mecklenburg County Commissioners on Jan. 27, 2022.

Former Carolina Panthers player Steve Smith has announced plans to establish a new behavioral health urgent care center in Charlotte in partnership with Mecklenburg County and Alliance Health.

The center will operate 24 / 7 and provide substance abuse and mental health treatment for children and adults.

Speaking to the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners last week, Smith said he had been developing the idea with Deputy County Manager Anthony Troutman since March of last year, and he said the issue was deeply personal to him.

"I'm a survivor of domestic violence, and I understand that the things that you need to address starts with mental health," he said.

Smith told commissioners both he and his mother experienced domestic violence when he was growing up, and he hoped that establishing a behavioral health center in Charlotte will help others in similar situations today.

"I'm not doing it because it sounds good. I'm doing it because I know what it's like and I've experienced it personally," Smith said.

The new center will be built on Colonnade Drive in east Charlotte, near the Bojangles Coliseum. Mecklenburg County has committed $2 million for construction, and the Steve Smith Family Foundation and Alliance Health have committed $800,000 each for construction costs as well.

The center will be run by behavioral health care provider Daymark Recovery Services, which currently operates two similar centers in Rockingham and Asheboro. Daymark CEO Billy West told commissioners that it would be the first 24-hour behavioral health urgent care center in Charlotte.

Smith was a wide receiver for the Carolina Panthers from 2001 to 2013, before leaving for the Baltimore Ravens in 2014. He retired from the NFL in 2017. Smith said he wanted to establish the behavioral health center in Charlotte as a way to give back to the city.

"I want to continue to honor my city that has adopted me, and that's my purpose. And when they lay me in the ground here, I want to leave a legacy on the city the same way that they've changed the legacy of my family for generations," Smith said.

The new center is expected to open in January 2023.

Copyright 2022 WFAE

WFAE's Nick de la Canal can be heard on public radio airwaves across the Charlotte region, bringing listeners the latest in local and regional news updates. He's been a part of the WFAE newsroom since 2013, when he began as an intern. His reporting helped the station earn an Edward R. Murrow award for breaking news coverage following the Keith Scott shooting and protests in September 2016. More recently, he's been reporting on food, culture, transportation, immigration, and even the paranormal on the FAQ City podcast. He grew up in Charlotte, graduated from Myers Park High, and received his degree in journalism from Emerson College in Boston. Periodically, he tweets: @nickdelacanal