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Leon W. Smith, Jr., was born July 14, 1953 in Brooklyn, New York to the proud parents, Irene and the late Leon William Smith, Sr. He received his early education in the public school system. He continued on to Borough Hall Academy junior High School and Queens Day Preparatory High School. He attended Gannon College in Erie, Pennsylvania, where he played on both the basketball and soccer teams. He later transferred to Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn and majored in Business Management.

Prior to Leon being appointed to the F.D.N.Y, on February 27, 1982, he had received appointments to both the N.Y.C.D.O.T. and the N.Y.C Department of Sanitation. He was also employed as a Mental Health Therapist.

Leon Loved helping others and knew by the age of nine that he wanted to become a Fire Fighter. He was often chastised for disappearing from the park, only to be found 'hanging out' at the local Firehouse near the family's home. His father urged his mother to just 'let him be,' stating "At least you know he's safe there."

Leon was always caring and giving. once he gave his winter coat to a classmate who didn't have one, beacuse he had three at home. Leon also loved using his hands. He was mechanically inclined and often built miniature race cars with tiny, work engines. He had the patience of a saint. He grew up to work on real car engines in his spare time and came to be known as the 'Firehouse Auto Mechanic'.

He was also a disc jockey, with his close friend Rick Fowler. The dynamic duo called themselves, "The Slicksters!" When Leon wasn't working at the firehouse, he was often showing another of his many talents, playing in various charity basketball games. He was a proud member of the Vulcan Society, an organization of black firefighters. Leon performed with his co-worker, Vernon Cherry and other firefighters, for a benefit for a young lady battling Leukemia, through an organization known as "Songs of Love." As always, Leon was happy to do a good deed. NBC also cast Leon as an extra (Firefighter) in the New York series "Thrid Watch".