Bowdoin College’s Wil Smith, an inspiration for many, dies at 46

Wil Smith, a man who took an unlikely road to graduate law school and became an associate dean, died Sunday at 46, The Bangor Daily News reported.

The paper reported that Smith died of colon cancer at a hospital in Philadelphia.

To say Smith's story is made for a Hollywood script, you would not be far off. His life story is in the works to be made into a movie.

He was born in Florida and was the youngest of 10 siblings. His mother died when he was 15. He joined the Navy and later, at the ripe college age of 27, started at Bowdoin College in Maine in the 1990s. He was nearly a decade older than his classmates and -- besides being one of three African-Americans in his class-- was a single father to a 1-year-old daughter, who was is college roommate.

Smith told his story on NPR's StoryCorps in 2013. He recalled working the night shift at Staples, where he would clean the store and hide his daughter in one of the closets.

"I think I lost something like 27 pounds just from stress and not eating because I didn't have enough for both of us," he said. His basketball teammates would double as baby-sitters at times.

"There were times the only way I could get through was to come in and look at you and to see you sleeping and then go back to my studies," he told his daughter in 2013, when she was a teenager. He received the only standing ovation at his graduation.

Smith was the dean of community and multicultural affairs at the Berkshire School in Sheffiled, Mass. He also was a former associate dean at Bowdoin.

His story was featured on NBC’s "The Today Show" and "Oprah."

"Wil was a giant of a person," Tim Foster, the dean of student affairs at Bowdoin, told The Bangor Daily News. "He was both a friend and a teacher for me. He made a difference in the lives of so many people, and I will carry him with me forever."

Fox News' Edmund DeMarche contributed to this report