After brain injury, Louisiana man uses art to inspire others

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SUNSET, La. (KLFY)- An Acadiana man who suffered a catastrophic brain injury after an ATV accident is helping others through art.

” I’ve tried a lot of different things. a place to plug my energy. this seemed to work the best,” said 29-year-old BJ Smith. He painted hundreds of pieces of art.

It’s a craft he discovered after the incident. Smith was 15 when the crash happened. He wasn’t wearing a helmet when the teen was thrown from the vehicle.

He spent three months in a coma and underwent several surgeries.

“BJ is my only child. All the hopes and dreams we encouraged in him and we had for him, I knew instantly that was over,” his mother Kim Smith, said. It was just going to be a new life.”

For BJ, the recovery meant starting all over again.
“I had to learn to walk, talk, feed myself. I had to relearn everything,” he said.
BJ embarked on “journey of healing” as well. His mom introduced him to painting only three years ago.
“Nothing was making him happy until he started painting,” Kim Smith said. “It really just exploded in ways that we didn’t expect.”

BJ said creative expression has brought a new kind joy.
“It brings out all kind of awesome stuff. You can let your inner child go crazy and play. it’s so awesome the stuff it brings out,” he said.

Kim and BJ Smith have founded the Brainart Alliance, a non-profit that brings awareness to brain injuries and the various therapies, including art, that can help heal.
“He’s really grown up in a lot of different ways in the past three years which is good and a tremendous amount of healing, a lot more happiness, a lot more fulfillment, a lot more messiness, it’s just like paint everywhere,” Kim said.
BJ Smith recently returned from a trip to Memorial Hermann Cancer Center in Houston, the hospital that saved his life.
There, he donated two large pieces of his art to the neuroscience department as a way to inspire others.

“You have to look for your inner talent. Whether it’s art or whatever you’re looking for, you need to find it within. Don’t give up. It’s there waiting for you. Dream big.”

The mayor of Houston also distinguished BJ with a proclamation acknowledging his brain injury awareness efforts and also proclaimed May 10 as BJ Smith Day.

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