Large, powerful, talent-laden South African regularfoot pro surfer; world-ranked #2 in 2010; "cocky and brash," as Stab magazine put it, "with a penchant for debauch." Smith was born (1988) in Durban, first surfed at age three, was regularly winning junior contests by age ten, and became the ASP Junior Champion in 2006. The next year he was the WQS champ and qualified for the World Tour.
Big and rangy (6'2", 190 pounds), with an unusual combination of explosive aerial moves and gouging rail turns, Smith was touted early on as a world title contender. Nike certainly thought so, and in 2007 the sportswear giant launched an unprecedented campaign to woo Smith into a multi-year endorsement deal. Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan, on behalf of Nike, both called the young South African surfer at home to offer encouragement. To the surf industry's astonishment, Smith instead chose O'Neill, the Santa Cruz wetsuit and surfwear company, and their $2 million annual offer.
Smith's 2008 rookie season was lackluster, but by 2010 he found rhythm, winning the Billabong Pro at Jeffrey's Bay en route to a second-place finish in the year-end rankings, behind Kelly Slater. He also starred in the Kai Neville's era-defining surf movie Modern Collective, and a video of him doing a rodeo flip aerial—the most impressive air move caught on film up to that point—went viral. Nonetheless, Smith was thought of by many as a surfer more respected than loved. "Jordy's like a shark," Aussie pro Julian Wilson said. "He's just a big, angry South African."
Smith also earned a reputation as a bawdy playboy, showing up at industry events in a tricked-out Lamborghini, openly discussing his ambitious sexual proclivities in magazine interviews, and landing in a 2009 Surfing magazine profile of the sport's top 5 most notorious bachelors. He seemed to turn away from all that in 2011, once he began seriously dating South African lingerie model Lyndall Jarvis (the two were married in 2014). At the same time, however, his competitive drive came down a notch or two. He again won at Jeffreys Bay in mid-2011, but didn't make a single final in 2012, and dropped out of the top ten.
By 2013 Smith was once again back in form, winning the Rio Pro, and putting himself in the hunt for a world title. In 2014, Smith took first at the Hurley Pro at Trestles and finished the year ranked #7.
Bending Colours, Smith's Kai Neville-directed biopic, was released in 2012.