Best Local Boy Gone Bad - 2010
Rev. Gaston E. Smith
Liberty City is in desperate need of a leader. When native Houstonian Rev. Gaston E. Smith took over the pulpit at the Friendship Missionary Baptist Church on NW 58 Street, it seemed the troubled community had found one. The fiery preacher was a role model, a diplomat, and a father figure, all stuffed into a linebacker's build and a flashy three-piece suit. When he's not booming the Word on Sundays, he's visiting ailing parishioners in the hospital or coaxing gangbangers off the street. His potential made it even more tragic when Smith betrayed the flock that adopted him: Last year, he was convicted of stealing from a county grant named after Martin Luther King Jr. His supporters claim he was railroaded by trumped-up charges, but the fact remains that he was careless and irresponsible, not the leader Liberty City needs. His sentence was suspended, and Smith remains the church's pastor, so he'll get a second chance to make a difference.