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NFL Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith is coming to Utah to speak at RootsTech

Former Dallas player Emmitt Smith walks on the field during team warmups before a game between the Buffalo Bills and Dallas Cowboys in Arlington, Texas, Thursday, Nov. 28, 2019.
Ron Jenkins, Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — The largest family history conference in the world has added a Hall of Fame NFL running back to its keynote speaker lineup.

Emmitt Smith, the NFL’s all-time leading rusher who won three Super Bowls with the Dallas Cowboys, will be a keynote speaker at RootsTech on Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020, organizers announced Tuesday.

Jen Allen, RootsTech director, is elated to have Smith coming to RootsTech.

“Emmitt is a passionate individual and one of the best examples of determination and grit—two traits that are often found in many of our ancestral stories, including Emmitt’s,” Allen said in a news release. “Besides all of his accolades and accomplishments, he is a really good person. He loves his family and is deeply grounded in simply being good. We can’t wait to feel his enthusiasm on the RootsTech stage.”

These days Smith lives in Dallas, Texas, with his wife and five children, where he owns several businesses in real estate, construction, and technology. He and his wife founded Pat and Emmitt Smith Charities to provide unique experiences and educational opportunities to underserved youth.

This is not Smith’s first foray with family history. In 2010, Smith’s slave ancestor roots were explored on an episode of the television show, “Who Do You Think You Are?” A DNA test helped the former football star trace his family heritage back to Africa, according to an Ancestry.com blog.

Smith has also been a contestant on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars.” He won the competition in 2006, the Deseret News reported.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) talks with former player Emmitt Smith, right, during warmups before an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills in Arlington, Texas, Thursday, Nov. 28, 2019.
Ron Jenkins, Associated Press

Smith will be the first non-Latter-day Saint NFL player to speak at RootsTech. The genealogy conference has hosted football-playing members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in previous years.

In 2016, before becoming a fan-favorite player with the New Orleans Saints, former BYU quarterback Taysom Hill and University of Utah receiver Britain Covey spoke at RootsTech.

In 2017, former NFL players and Latter-day Saints Vai Sikahema and Reno Mahe participated in the family history conference.

RootsTech is scheduled to take place in the Salt Palace Feb. 26-29. For more information on the conference, speakers and how to register, visit RootsTech.org.