Teenager finds juggling life works

Juggling prodigy C.J. Smith juggles at his home in Carson City Thursday afternoon.

Juggling prodigy C.J. Smith juggles at his home in Carson City Thursday afternoon.

At a time when many 16-year-olds are juggling work, school and family, Carson City's C.J. Smith is just juggling.

C.J. is a Carson City native who has been juggling on and off since he saw an assembly in the third grade on the subject.

"I got three tennis balls and I tried to do it myself, but I couldn't make it work," C.J. said. "Then some missionaries came to my house and I asked them to show me and they did."

C.J.'s real name is Charles Edward Smith Jr., but his mom nicknamed him Charles Junior and then shortened it to the initials.

Connie Muir and Charles Sr. came to Carson City in 1977 and C.J. was born here.

His father was born in Reno and has lived in Western Nevada for most of his life.

After a lot of practice, C.J. visited Circus Circus in Reno where he met 30-year career juggler Dick Franco.

"I run into kids like this all of the time," Dick said. "But nobody picked it up like this kid. He was being kind of cocky so I called my friend who owns a small Mexican circus and he put him in the show in Reno."

Dick said C.J. has a lot of talent and should go far as a juggler.

"He got good really fast, he went crazy for this," Dick said. "He's not going to quit, I can tell."

C.J. performed in front of a large audience for the first time on June 7 in Reno with the Circus Osorio.

The following Monday, June 10, he was back in his hometown at Fuji Park.

C. J. also performed in Salt Lake City.

For the summer at least, he is spending much of his time practicing.

"I love it," he said. "I'm getting lots of practice. When I get out of high school, I want to start working in the casinos and places like that all over Las Vegas."

C.J. will be a junior at Carson High School this fall and his mother says he has been very focused on his juggling.

"He wants to make this his career," she said. "It has all be quite a learning experience."

C.J. is up to juggling seven balls at one time in his performance and practices with eight.

"I can juggle anything," he said. "I've juggled machetes and torches, but I don't have them yet. I also ride the unicycle."

Connie says that when C.J. is not practicing juggling, he's reading about it.

"He does quite well on endurance runs," she said. "He's really been into it for about 18 months. He's really a natural."


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