Beloved son, brother, cousin, grandson, nephew and uncle, Wally Thomas Smith passed away November 29th at the age of 22 at his home on the Morongo Indian Reservation.
Born April 22,1998 at Loma Linda Hospital at 10 pounds, 2 ounces and 21 inches, Wally Smith was a big baby and he made a big entrance into the world. He made a deep and lasting impact on the family and friends who loved him. His nieces and nephews lovingly nicknamed him “Bebe”.
Wally, whose Cupeño roots came from his father Andrew Smith of the Pala Indian Reservation, grew up on the Morongo Indian Reservation with five brothers and sisters. He was also proud of his Dakota heritage which came from his grandfather Elmer Sonny St. John. Preceeded in death by his grandfather St. John and siblings A.J. Smith and Niya Smith, Wally is survived and mourned by his mother Cindy St. John, father Andrew Smith, Sr., brother Joseph Smith and sisters Bea St. John Loza and Shawnee Smith as well as his grandmother Mary Ann Martin Andreas, his uncle Robert Smith, cousin Sheila Smith Lopez, godparent Dennis Basquez, aunts Judy Leivas and Frances Muncy and godson Se’wet John Loza.
Wally was well known for his athletic prowess which started early. His mother Cindy St. John said he walked at 7 months and rode a bike at 2. Growing to 6-foot 2-inches tall, he played baseball for Banning High School and was ranked both statewide and nationally. He was named Defensive Player of the Year in 2013. He also played in all Native American tournaments and traveled to games throughout the United States and Canada. G3, his lifelong mentor and coach, was deeply proud of Wally.
Also active in “rez” basketball, Wally formed deep friendships playing with tribal members from Morongo, Soboba, Pala, Barona and Rincon among others.
After graduating from Banning High School in 2016, he focused on Native American studies at Palomar College.
A family service was held at Saint Mary’s Catholic Church in Banning.
Wally will forever live in the hearts of those he knew. May he rest in peace.
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