As most fans of the team are well-aware, Cavaliers sharpshooter J.R. Smith and his wife, Jewel, have been dealing with the premature birth of their daughter, Dakota.

Dakota was born nearly five months prematurely in January. Since then, she has been in the NICU at a Cleveland-area children’s hospital receiving treatment. These are certainly trying times for the Smith family, but there have been promising signs with regards to little Dakota’s progress.

Smith, as honest as they come, tells ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne that Dakota is always in the front of his mind.


“I’ll be happy when I can bring her home, but until then, it’s something I want to keep in the front of my mind all the time,” Smith said of Dakota. “I talk to my wife about it. (We) Just keep having conversations about it. It’s pretty much the only thing that relieves some of the pressure.”

After Monday night’s 103-74 loss to the San Antonio Spurs, Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue offered up his thoughts on what Smith and his family have been going through with regards to their daughter. The second-year helmsman says the Cavaliers organization is behind the Smith family 100 percent.

“It’s gotta be tough on him,” Lue said. “I just got to keep talking to him, tell him he doesn’t have to press. We’re behind him 100 percent. His daughter is in our thoughts and our prayers. Basketball is our life, but it’s not the only life that you have. He’s gotta understand that. He’s just gotta stay up and stay positive.”

Smith, who missed three months of action due to a fractured right thumb, tells ESPN that being away from the game allowed him to spend time with Dakota.

“Had I not have gotten hurt, I wouldn’t have been able to spend as much time with her as I have,” Smith said. “It’s kind of worked out for the best.”

Smith tells Shelburne that Dakota, who is now up to three pounds in weight, is doing well.

“She’s developing everything on time,” Smith said of Dakota’s progress. “Right now, we’re just waiting for her lungs to fully develop. Hopefully after that she’ll be good. They (Dakota’s doctors) have a good outlook, but they also say it can go either way. But they seem happy about it.”

As one big Cavaliers family, we should continue to keep Dakota in our thoughts and prayers going forward as they deal with these difficult times.