Jamar Smith earned 4 varsity letters at Richwoods High School in Peoria, Illinois. He led the Mid-State 6 Conference in scoring as both a junior and a senior. He shot nearly 46 percent from 3-point range his senior year and averaged 23.1 points per game. He was first-team All-State He was Associated Press second-team All-State. He led Richwoods to a 21-8 record and the IHSA sectional final during his senior season. He finished his Richwoods career with 1,525 points.
After high school, Jamar went on to the University of Illinois. In his freshman season, he was the Illini's first guard off the bench and saw action in 32 of 33 games. Despite playing 19.2 minutes per game, he was just fifth on the team in scoring, averaging 8.0 points per game but still led the Big Ten in 3-point field goal percentage at 48.2 percent. In his sophomore campaign, he appeared in 21 games, starting 6 of them. He was fourth on the team in scoring, averaging 8.1 points per game. He missed six games early in the season due to an ankle injury and had a major upheaval in his life midway through the season.
Once he got to college, he enjoyed the college lifestyle a little too much and developed a drinking problem. On February 12, 2007, Smith's world came crashing down. He was playing a drinking game with Brian Carlwell, a teammate on the Illini team and several girls from the same apartment complex. He and Carlwell left the party with Jamar driving, and there was an ugly car accident in which the heavily intoxicated Smith plowed his grandparents' 1996 Lexus into a tree with Carlwell in the passenger seat.
Smith returned to the apartment after the accident with Carlwell unconscious in the car. Smith believed his teammate was dead. Still heavily intoxicated, he began throwing things and tried to kill himself at one point. The next day, he found out that his teammate was in an induced coma. He spent 15 days in the Champaign County Jail, was sentenced to 100 hours of community service, fined $850 and was also put into counseling. He also had to live with the memory of nearly killing himself and his teammate. Carlwell did eventually recover and the two remain friends.
Smith was suspended for the remainder of the 2007 season and the suspension lasted through the 2008 season Just months before he was to return to practice with the team, a police officer caught him outside a bar with alcohol on his breath, which was a violation of his two-year probation. It resulted in his dismissal from the team. As he was returning home with his mother, thinking of his 2 year old son made him admit he had a problem, seek help for it, and check into a residential treatment facility that turned his life around.
At the treatment facility, he became close with Chuck, who was a year younger and in the facility for drug treatment. Chuck was released before Jamar and when Jamar was released, he learned that his friend Chuck was found dead in his garage of an overdose. That was Smith's second and biggest wake up call. Jamar knew that he needed to get away from his home town and enrolled at Southern Indiana to play basketball there. The fall semester was already underway at Southern Indiana but Smith moved from Peoria to Evansville, Indiana into an apartment and lived by himself with his dog. He got a job at a grocery store and would work there 7 hours a day and then would spend 3 hours a day shooting and working on his game while his future teammates practiced.
On Dec. 30, 2008 Smith played in his first game in nearly 2 years. He made just 1-of-7 shots from long range and finished with 11 points. As he struggled to regain his game, he was also heckled in almost every arena he played in as a result of having to wear and ankle bracelet that would indicate if he had any alcohol to drink. He accepted the heckling as a result of his own poor decisions and just kept working. His shot returned to him and he finished the season averaging 18.5 points and shooting 48% from beyond the arc in 21 games. His final season at Southern Indiana, he averaged 21.6 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.2 steals and shot 42.7% from beyond the arc.
Jamar went undrafted in the 2010 NBA draft. He was invited to the Celtics training camp in 2010 but was released before the season. He played the 2010-11 season with the Celtics' D-League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws. He played in 48 games, starting 45 of those games. He averaged 13.6 points, 2.8 rebounds, 5.0 assists and shot 46.7% from the field and 43.2% from long distance.
In April of 2011, he played one game for Guaiqueries de Margarita in Venezuela and scored 5 points. He played the 2011-12 season with BK Prostejov Czech Republic, averaging 14.9 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 2.4 assists while shooting 57.5% from the field.
He is very open about the mistakes of his past. He has learned from them and has moved past them. He is chasing his dream of playing in the NBA and staying fully sober. His coach at Southern Indiana had this to say about him, "In my 23 years in Division II, I’ve never seen anyone as good as Jamar Smith." He will be fighting with Kris Joseph and Dionte Christmas for the 15th spot on the team. If he doesn't make the Celtics roster, it is possible that he may play on the Red Claws again, and wait for his chance to make it in the NBA.