Simone I. Smith, the wife and teenage sweetheart to LL Cool J, knows a thing or two about perseverance. Her husband made history in 2017 as the first rapper to be recognized by the Kennedy Center, the highest performing arts designation in the nation, an honor he likely keeps shelved between his two Grammys. Still, it was Smith who brought the rapper-actor his greatest challenge when she was diagnosed with bone cancer in 2004. A 14-year survivor, Smith has committed her life today to both advocacy and art. Rihanna, Martha Stewart and the Kardashian-Jenners have all been seen dripping in Smith’s jewelry designs.
Here are five more things to know about the woman alongside the man:
1. She beat cancer.
The mother of four says that her 2004 battle with bone cancer both tested and renewed her faith, according to her website. After surgery and two years of intensive rehab, Smith made a full recovery and was energized by her new role as an advocate. In a collaborative effort with her husband, the American Cancer Society ambassador launched the Beat Cancer Like A Boss campaign, reminding those affected by cancer that healing, in some cases, can be a game of mind over matter. The ad campaign features celebrities like Jhene Aiko and Salt-N-Pepa, all donning Smith’s jewelry designs.
2. She collaborated with Mary J. Blige on her jewelry line.
In 2011, Smith began to channel some of that renewed energy into a passion she’s nurtured since girlhood: jewelry. Smith’s self-titled jewelry line, featuring earrings, bracelets, and her signature Sweet Touch of Hope lollipop pendants, has been donned by LL’s Hollywood peers, including Remy Ma, Jhene Aiko and, of course, Mary J. Blige, who Smith partnered with on select designs. Smith, who has been a guest on Entertainment Tonight, QVC and The Insider, won the National Association of Women Business Owners of Los Angeles’ Rising Star award in 2013, according to her website. Today, the jewelry lover remains driven by her battle with cancer, donating a portion of every sale to the ongoing fight for a cure.
3. Her and LL have four kids.
The couple raised four children together — their son Najee, 30, and three daughters: Italia, 29, Samaria, 24, and Nina, 19. The closeness of the Smith family, who told Oprah that they have always been tight, can be observed in adorable Instagram posts of the six-pack.
Samaria made a special appearance on mom Simone’s social media, where the 24-year-old modeled pieces from Smith and Blige’s collection.
4. She gave LL the cold shoulder for two weeks after his "Doin' It" video dropped.
In a 2013 conversation with Lady O, the couple opened up about the creative differences that created friction in the early days of their marriage. The couple, who had been dating since 1987, returned from their honeymoon just in time for the release of LL’s 1995 video for “Doin’ It.” The video features a female lead crawling her way toward the rapper who promptly licks his face upon her arrival. Needless to say, even a romantic honeymoon wasn’t enough to remedy the salacious video in Smith’s eyes. The couple didn't speak for two weeks.
“I understand you’re a sex symbol … but now that you're married, there should be some limitations,” she told Oprah.
5. She told Oprah there are three secrets to her happy marriage.
For many Hollywood couples, creative differences like these have emerged as the mark of the beast, ultimately driving a wedge between partners. Nevertheless, in the same conversation with Oprah, Smith explained that marriage was something worth working for. She cited three things that have kept her and LL strong for 25 years and counting: “Putting God first … compromise [and] picking your battles.”
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Looking at the same thing, but seeing it differently gives us double the perspective and double the vision. Todd you are an awesome Dad, wonderful Husband, super Grandad, and a great Son. Your focus, faith, strength, determination, drive, will, and love have been the building blocks for your life and for our family. Your legacy will be reflective of all that is great within you. Thank you for who you are and all that you do. Happy Birthday Mr. Smith!! ????????????????????#blessed #godisgreat #dreamsdonthavedeadlines
Looks like they have this romance thing down pat!