It has been a long road, but Aldon Smith is back in the NFL. Smith, who last appeared in an NFL game with the Oakland Raiders in 2015, signed with the Dallas Cowboys earlier this offseason and is incredibly grateful for the opportunity to play football again:

“I lost my way along the way. I wasn’t sure what my purpose was. I know football is one of my many purposes that God has put me here,” Smith said, according to Michael Gehlken ofThe Dallas Morning News. “With God giving me this gift, this talent … it was something I didn’t finish.”

Smith entered the league as a No. 7 overall pick of the San Francisco 49ers back in 2011. It didn't take long for him to establish himself as a stud, as he racked up 37 tackles, 14 sacks, a couple of forced fumbles and a fumble recovery during his rookie year.

The following season, Smith was even better, rattling off 66 tackles, 19.5 sacks and three forced fumbles en route to a Pro Bowl appearance and a First-Team All-Pro selection.

Then, trouble began.

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In September 2013, Smith was arrested under suspicion of driving under the influence and marijuana possession. He played in 11 games that season before entering a rehabilitation facility.

Smith was then suspended for the first nine games of 2014 because of the arrest, but in August 2015, he was hit with another DUI that featured a hit-and-run, resulting in his release from the 49ers.

The 30-year-old joined the Raiders for 2015, appearing in nine contests before being hit with a year-long suspension for the hit-and-run incident. No reinstatement occurred for Smith in 2016 and 2017, and in March 2018, Smith was released by Oakland due to an alleged domestic violence incident.

Smith was finally reinstated by the NFL a couple of months ago and inked a deal with the Cowboys.