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At Home With Kimberly Hunt & Billy Ray Smith

Hunt
Published

At Home With Kimberly Hunt & Billy Ray Smith

Posted on March 4, 2013

When they were married 22 years ago, their storybook wedding was the talk of San Diego: the beautiful newscaster teaming up with the hunky football player. In the years ever since, Kimberly Hunt and Billy Ray Smith have shown us that fairy tales do come true. The couple has a 20-year-old daughter (now in college), successful careers, a string of accolades, and charitable causes to which they are devoted.

Recently, the couple showed Ranch & Coast around their Del Mar home, elegant and comfortable, filled with art and fresh flowers expertly arranged by Hunt herself, and mementos from their travels. For instance, among their prized possessions are the copper pots they bought on their honeymoon at an Istanbul bazaar. They laugh as they remember what must have been a comical sight — Smith lugging huge boxes of copper pots down the narrow streets as passersby called him “Rambo,” a reference to the action star played by Sylvester Stallone.

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Kimberly Hunt & Billy Ray Smith’s Kitchen

Hunt, a longtime San Diego newscaster, co-anchors evening newscasts at 10News (KGTV), while Smith co-hosts an afternoon talk show on XX Sports Radio (1090 AM), as well as TV broadcasts during the football season. Icing on the cake for the couple is that, for the first time in many years, they are on the same side of the clock, both working pm, rather than am shifts. While raising daughter Savannah (now a junior at Cornell University), Smith would leave early in the morning for his radio show. Hunt, meanwhile, would report to the television studio in the afternoon. While the schedule took some juggling, the result was that their daughter had both parents in her life. Smith says he got to spend more time with his daughter than most dads who work more traditional schedules, including watching Savannah’s after-school volleyball practices.

Smith, an All-American at the University of Arkansas, considers himself “incredibly blessed” to have been drafted by the Chargers in 1983. “I came out here, and San Diego has been everything I could have dreamed of,” he says. “Honestly, I don’t want to sound sappy. It’s just the way it is.”

In fact, Smith played his entire ten-year NFL career in San Diego, and was voted one of the 50 greatest Chargers of all time in 2009. But most special, Smith was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2000, an honor he got to share with his father before he passed away. Billy Ray Smith, Sr., who also played for the Arkansas Razorbacks, was a 13-year NFL pro who retired after his Baltimore Colts defeated the Cowboys in Super Bowl V.

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Kimberly Hunt & Billy Ray Smith

His playing days now over, Smith is talking — sports, of course. After a brief morning stint on UT-TV, he teams once again with Scott Kaplan on XX Sports Radio from 3-6pm weekdays. “I get to talk about sports on the radio for a job,” he says with a laugh. “Come on, how can you beat it? Getting to talk to the people in San Diego who want to call in and want to talk about [sports]. It’s the best thing ever.”

Hunt, the daughter of a now retired CHP officer, was raised in Napa and graduated from San Francisco State University. She got her on-air start in Monterrey, California, before moving to San Diego in 1987. During her decades on San Diego television, she has earned, among other honors, seven regional Emmy Awards, as well as an Edward R. Murrow award for her report, “Tracking the Mexican Mafia — inside Donovan State Prison.” Hunt, whose beat includes border issues and federal agencies, learned from sources that prisoners were operating a criminal empire from behind bars, ordering contract killings, drug deals, and extortion, with the help of smuggled-in cell phones. The gutsy newscaster accompanied investigators and police dogs on a surprise — and dangerous — prison raid, what she calls “a life-changing experience.”

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Kimberly Hunt & Billy Ray Smith

While Hunt and Smith have had job opportunities elsewhere, they decided years ago that San Diego, their adopted home, was where they wanted to be. “We talked about how this city has embraced us, both of us, him as a football player, and me as a newscaster,” Hunt recalls. “People here have been so gracious. We just wanted to raise Savannah here, so we did make the choice to stay, as a family. I have not regretted a day of it because this community is now what we care about, what we are committed to, what we’re a part of.”

The elegant Del Mar dining room

Those commitments include emceeing numerous events for San Diego nonprofits including the Beach & Country Guild’s annual Dia del Sol to benefit United Cerebral Palsy, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and the San Diego Burn Institute. Hunt also is involved with the CHP 11-99 Foundation, which provides money for the families of fallen officers, including college scholarships. Her reasons are very personal: her late grandfather, a constable in Ojai, died in the line of duty after tracking an escapee, leaving behind a wife and family. Hunt’s father, just nine years old at the time, would later make law enforcement his career. In a similar vein, the Great Friends Foundation, which Smith co-founded with co-host Kaplan, is dedicated to San Diego County’s first responders and their families, offering financial aid and linking them with programs and services.

As for that fairy tale, however charmed the Smiths’ lives appear to be, there has been no magic wand. It has taken hard work, and a strong commitment to each other, to balance a home life with two high-profile careers.   Andrea Naversen

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Kimberly Hunt & Billy Ray Smith

Photography by Vincent Knakal

Six Comments

  • Nino Sanfilippo

    Reply

    Hey billy its Nino I seen you at Boston concert you said nice jacket and we took pic . Just wanted to say thanks for pic and taking a moment to chat . Those chargers years wear great.

  • Dan Duffy

    Reply

    I met Billy at Bob Baker Ford in 2003. Triple H was with him one time as well. I’ve seen Billy several times since then just to shake his hand. Billy crushes your hand! He has ALWAYS been a gentleman and what a great man for our community.
    I wish their family a lifetime of happiness.
    P.S.
    One day I hope to get his autograph:)

  • Dan Duffy

    Reply

    Oh, I’m a volunteer baseball coach at SDSU
    Billy was an all American with my lifelong friend Chuck Nelson????

  • Kimberly sauer Hightower

    Reply

    Hey Billy Ray…. we were at Universiry of Arkansas at the same time as was my mom with your dad. I graduated in 1983. Go Razorbacks! WPS!
    My daughter is now attending the University of Arkansas. Thanks to you and Kimberly for all you do for our amazing city!

  • I went to the Razorback practice field circa 1983, my nephew from Kansas City was a walk on. When I went through rhe dressing room to the field I could see life size pictures of all the starters in uniform on the wall. One of those pictures took up an entire wall, it was Billy Ray Smith Jr. I was interrogated by the AD Frank Broyles as to weather I was a Texas spy. When I told him I was from California visiting my daughter, a soph art major, he chastised the University and it had no art program and that I was a spy. I jumped all over him and told him he should be ashamed to berate a great part of UA. He finally relented when I told him my wife’s first cousin, Jim Finch, had helped him win the national title in 1964 when he tackled the Texas QB on their last chance to defeat Arkansas in Austin. He introduced me to his new super head coach, Lou Holtz. I was unknown to anyone in that organization yet Holtz spent the next 10 minutes talking to me, he learned all about my family, that I grew up listening to Billy Ray Smith on the radio when the Razorbacks played in the 1950s, that I had tried to get into the Air Force acadamy etc. That was when I put Holtz on a pedestal to this day, I was not surprised when he was named HC of the fighting Irish. That is why two of the Chargers greatest people played at Arkansas (Smith and the current Hunter Henry). They were/are pretty good football players as well.

  • Anthony Alvarez

    Reply

    Billy Ray Kimberly
    Amazing family! Thank you for many years of sacrifice to all San Diego folks! Hell of a NFL Great!
    And still watching anchor great Kimberly Hunt . Best wishes to Savanna!!
    Hard work kind hearts!!!

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