Businessman offers reward for return of Final Four jersey - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Businessman offers reward for return of Final Four jersey

The framed jersey presented to Russ Smith on Senior Day 2014. The framed jersey presented to Russ Smith on Senior Day 2014.
Russ Smith, Sr & Russ Smith, Jr. Russ Smith, Sr & Russ Smith, Jr.

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - FedEx threw it away. Now University of Louisville fans are stepping up to try and get Russ Smith's 2013 national championship jersey back to him.

From the graduation stage to the basketball court, UofL loves Russ Smith. After our May 9 report about shipping giant FedEx throwing away his national championship jersey, social media sites went nuts. Now, Jonathan Blue, a Cardinals fan and CEO of Blue Equity, is putting his money where his mouth is. Blue tweeted a $3,000 reward offer to anyone who returns the missing jersey.

[PREVIOUS STORY: Russ Smith's Final Four jersey thrown away by Fed Ex]

"My whole goal is to try and get it back and not ask any questions," Blue said in a phone interview. "Because I like the kid. He did great things for our city, he graduated, he's a first team All American."

Smith got the framed jersey on Senior Day. His dad had it shipped back to New York using FedEx. But when it arrived the glass was cracked. FedEx told Smith Sr. to ship it back, jersey included, so the claims department could inspect the damage. FedEx sent the money to pay for a new frame. They did not send back that priceless jersey.

"She took a deep breath and said unfortunately I think they destroyed that," Smith Sr. said. "I said, ‘ma'am no way.'"

Erin Truxal, public relations manager for FedEx Ground, said for safety reasons they throw away any boxes with broken glass without opening them to see what's inside.

The younger Smith took to twitter Friday night in a series of angry rants at FedEx. Meanwhile, Smith Sr. said the company told him Monday they are searching shipping facilities in Brooklyn and Louisville to see if they can track it down.

Blue hopes his reward money might encourage a FedEx worker to look a little harder.

"I think someone should go sift through the trash, watch the video cameras," Blue said. "I mean this isn't just an item that can be replaced tomorrow by going to guy another one at Walmart."

FedEx paid the Smith family $1,000 - the full amount the jersey was insured for. They have also offered to pay the cost of framing a replica of that authentic Final Four jersey. Russ Smith and his dad say that is little consolation.

Copyright 2014 WAVE 3 News. All rights reserved.

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