By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
When Arizona Cardinals fans watch DeAndre Hopkins, they see a talented, spirited athlete who maintains a tough exterior.
His mother, Sabrina Greenlee, witnesses something a little different.
“He’s always been a momma’s boy — although he might not admit it,” the South Carolina resident says with a laugh. “I’m definitely proud of him, not only on the football field but the businessman he’s become as well.”
Life wasn’t always so playful for their family. Greenlee’s story is filled with cycles of abuse, teen pregnancy and a violent attempt on her life that ultimately left her completely blind. Although her life has been “no crystal stair,” she credits her faith as the fuel that equips her with the confidence and tenacity to inspire others to repair, recreate and restore their purpose and infinite potential.
Greenlee will soon share her story through her memoir and is preparing for BRON Studios to make a movie about her life.
“It’s a little surreal that they would make a depiction about my life,” she says. “I’m embracing it each day. I’m even thinking about who’s going to portray me. When they asked, I says, ‘Taraji P. Henson.’ She’s the same age as me and has an amazing personality. I am excited, but now I can’t believe this is really happening.”
Working on the memoir and film has been trying for Greenlee. They unveiled a lot of darkness, but it led to healing.
“Between the two, I did a lot of meditation and a lot of floating in the water to relieve stress,” she says. “Definitely, between writing the book proposal and the movie script, a lot of self-reflection and a lot of healing came about.”
Greenlee is the founder and CEO of S.M.O.O.O.T.H. Inc. — Speaking Mentally, Outwardly Opening Opportunities Toward Healing.
Through this platform, she and her team aim to educate and empower as many women and children as possible through mentorship, counseling and outreach. She intends to continue raising awareness year-round by unmasking the myth and unveiling the many different shades of purple surrounding domestic abuse.
S.M.O.O.O.T.H. has started operating in Arizona, which marks its third state.
“I’m really ecstatic, with DeAndre having this amazing year coming up,” she says.
“We take women who are in shelters, as they’re transitioning into their own dwelling — whether it be a home, a condo, it doesn’t matter. My philosophy is if you have a key, we can help you.”
Greenlee and two S.M.O.O.O.T.H. members are certified life coaches who set the women up for success.
“Most of the members of S.M.O.O.O.T.H. haven’t gone through domestic violence themselves, which is pretty amazing,” Greenlee explained. “I get to teach them and take them into shelters. It’s really great that they haven’t been through it, but they’re prepared and they did the training to understand what the ladies need to go through to heal.”
Greenlee is a recipient of the 2020 Houston Humanitarian Awards. She has been featured on ESPN, USA Today and the Emmy-winning “Living in Fear: Chronicles I and II,” and regularly appears on local media outlets from South Carolina to Texas. Sabrina appeared on ABC news with the CEO of the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
“The ESPN article was definitely amazing,” she says. “It got so much exposure. We had an outpouring of support from the NFL and NBA. People knew who I was then. While we’re sitting in the airport, I get, ‘Is that…?’ My daughter just starts shaking her head like, ‘That’s her.’”
She is the mother of four children — Kesha Smith, who is a Houston-area Realtor; musician Marcus Greenlee; Hopkins and model Shanterria Cobb. Cobb was named after Greenlee’s brother, Terry Smith, who died in 1997.
Besides her family, faith has helped Greenlee through her turbulent life.
“Nine, 10 years ago, there was no way I could have thought about faith,” she says. “I was just so broken and really in a hurtful place. Over the years, I did a lot of reflecting, a lot of self-healing, realizing my faith played a big part of who I am now.
“Had I not had faith, I would have crumbled a long time ago. I would say my faith is stronger now than it ever has been.”