Jeff Smith Biography
Before his first appearance as Amazing Jeffo, “Not Your Typical Blind Magician,” Jeff Smith developed a prankster personality, that emerged “center stage” in the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. He was an underweight, malnourished seven-year-old, fighting for his life. A diseased intestine and bowel that doctors declared was the worst malignancy they had seen in one so young. He made Mayo Clinic history by becoming one of the youngest patients to have his entire lower digestive tract removed, which meant use of a bag for body waste for the rest of his life. Rheumatoid arthritis struck next. At age ten, Smith spent months in traction trying to straighten a leg that was developing a permanent bend at the knee. It didn’t work. His knee was fused which left him with a stiff, peg leg gait, but kept him from being wheelchair bound.
During this time his fascination with “sleight of hand” began. He started devouring books about his hero, Harry Houdini, which emboldened him to begin performing magic tricks that endeared him to his classmates. It signaled to the world that he was just a normal kid inside an uncooperative body. The onset of blindness began with blurriness in one eye. Two years later, by the time Smith was entering high school, he had lost vision in both eyes.
His spunky personality and ability to see humor, some of it irreverent, in life’s unpredictability was shaped and sharpened by his high-energy Mom, hardworking Dad, and four siblings who looked past his fragile body and saw him as their annoying prankster brother. Surprisingly, Smith said it was the stutter he had developed while so young, and under stress during his long stay at the Mayo Clinic, that was the biggest obstacle to his wellbeing.
He became the first blind student to graduate from the University of Minnesota with a degree in journalism. Beginning speech therapy to overcome his stutter was his first step towards independence. That’s when the magic began. Smith was finally able to release years of pent up, unarticulated thoughts and ideas. On stage, of all places, his fear of public speaking was forgotten. But the enchantment didn’t stop there. At one of his performances he met, “Mrs. Amazing”, his future wife – Devon. Unexpectedly, in 2016 Devon was in an automobile accident, and as a result, lives today with a TBI (traumatic brain injury). However, in spite of these serious, ongoing challenges, it has served to unite them in purpose. Jeff and Devon Smith support a vision that all people are able to, and do make meaningful contributions to society. The message that the Smiths live out daily is that in extraordinary circumstances, attitude can be the difference between feeling defeated or thriving.
The two have been married for over 20 years. Throughout their marriage they have adopted 3 lovable dogs, each rescues needing special attention and care.
Jeff is a student of all things WWII and enjoys listening to music on his stereo, especially classical and jazz. Devon’s favorite space is on their backyard deck listening to birds and breathing in the flora and fauna and in the kitchen trying out new recipes.
Jeff now makes time to speak at different venues about his disabilities, and how to never give up on a dream.
To Book Speaker Jeffrey Smith, Please Call 651-457-7300