GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Ocean Springs motivational speaker Greg Smith is known as "The Strength Coach" and has made a living teaching others how to be strong and cope, but there was a time in his life when he was not so strong himself.
"The voice within, it almost killed me," Smith said.
Smith opened up about some of the darkest times in his life.
In 2005, Hurricane Katrina destroyed his home and possessions. He was put in a nursing home for a while because it was the only handicap accessible place available. Later, Smith was diagnosed with congestive heart failure.
"I heard the voice telling me to give up, give in to death and it was a profound statement that I vowed if I was going to live, I was going to silence that voice. Shut it up forever," Smith said.
That challenge, Smith said, was tougher than living with muscular dystrophy and congestive heart failure. But the rewards have made it all worth it.
"It gave me a sense of freedom I haven't felt in a long time," Smith said, "I'm energetic now, I'm back and exercising, eating right, sleeping right."
The crowd listened to Smith as he shared the three step secret he said saved his life.
"I can't compare to what he has have gone through and what he has prevailed through to have a successful life," Gordon Jackson Jr. said, "but it just motivates me to go get my act straight and do the special things I can do in my life."
Smith's father, James Smith, was among those in the crowd.
"He did a really good job and made me think of things I have been allowing the voices to control me, so he gave me inspiration," James Smith said.
Greg Smith said, "Obviously, you have to believe you can do something to achieve it."