Entertainment Sports Former NBA Player JR Smith Named Academic Athlete of the Year at North Carolina A&T The two-time NBA champion, now a student at North Carolina A&T, opened up about overcoming "fears of being vulnerable" after enrolling in college By Natasha Dye Natasha Dye Twitter Natasha Dye is a writer-reporter for PEOPLE Digital covering sports. People Editorial Guidelines Published on April 26, 2022 02:24 PM Share Tweet Pin Email Photo: Mike Lawrie/Getty Retired NBA star JR Smith — whose accomplishments in the league include two championships — just took home a different kind of win. Smith, 36, was awarded Academic Athlete of the Year at North Carolina A&T State University after finishing his first year with a 4.0 GPA. Smith shared the news with fans and friends on his social media accounts, Monday. The former Los Angeles Lakers player is a liberal studies student and a member of the golf team at the Greensboro school. Smith's former NBA teammates congratulated the retired NBA star on his award. LeBron James — who Smith won the 2020 NBA title alongside — tweeted, "YESSIR @therealjrsmith!! Proud of you Kid!! Love bro." Atlanta Hawks guard Lou Williams encouraged his followers to spread Smith's news with the same enthusiasm they have for jokes and memes. "Y'all spread this just like the jokes. Salute @TheRealJRSmith," Williams, 35, wrote on Twitter. Former NBA Player JR Smith, 36, Celebrates 4.0 GPA After First Semester of College: 'Hard Work' Smith is using his return to school to inspire others to pursue their goals. "Your true wealth is defined by how you encourage/inspire others! #GREATDAY," he shared on Twitter. The former basketball player's hard work is paying off, but it wasn't easy for him to return to school. "If I'm being honest at all, I am tariffed [sic] to go back to school…Literally, these assignments still make my heads sweat," Smith shared in a tweet. "Overcoming these fears of being vulnerable and open about my disability has given me real power! Power no one will ever take from me." Two-Time NBA Champion J.R. Smith Stung by Hornets at His First College Golf Tournament Smith later joked about the typo he made in his prior tweet. "Take a spelling class," a Twitter user replied. Smith embraced the error, joking that spelling will be his next class. Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.. As for Smith's next goal, he may be pursuing further education. Smith told Internet personality Cameron Magruder "FOR SURE" when he asked Smith if he was, "PhD bound" on Twitter.