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So what's in a name?

For former Roosevelt and Notre Dame football star Tony Smith, it is everything. That's especially so when you have big-time involvement in the Hollywood scene, as he does.

It is so important, in fact, that he now goes by the name of Tony DeNiro.

"Tony Smith just doesn't ring a bell out here," said DeNiro, who owns an entertainment and consulting business called Royal T's Inc.

"When I was getting into the business, there was Will Smith, and when you call someone and you say, 'It's Tony Smith calling,' it sounds like an alias. Image is everything out here."

He has consulted several stars, including Diddy, Gwen Stefani and Missy Elliott, and also has worked with Kanye West.

"I love being able to help even young artists get started with cutting their first recording," DeNiro said. "It is a great life, and being out here, you aren't in as much awe as if I was living in the Midwest. A lot of these people are my friends.

"I'm on a private plane a lot, going from L.A. to Europe. It does keep you busy."

He has a marketing degree from Notre Dame and said he helped Diddy when he was breaking up with Jennifer Lopez and had some other problems.

"I just consulted him and got him to get his career back," DeNiro said. "I helped create the character Fonzworth Bentley and got him marketed."

His latest star-in-the-making is 19-year-old female vocalist Lex Luther, who just released her first single, "SupaDupa."

"She is going to be a superstar and she is signed to my company," DeNiro said.

With all the bright lights and headlines, DeNiro said his roots in Gary and his parents, Ernest and Gloria, are as responsible for his success as his being in the company of Heidi Klum or Naomi Campbell.

"My roots -- simple values and education -- still are a big part of me," DeNiro said. "I had a lot of great people who influenced me like (former Roosevelt track coach) John Campbell. He really pushed me to get better and to work hard at anything I did.

"He really pushed me and prepared me for life. My mom and dad were in education and they always stressed that."

He also enjoyed his years at Notre Dame and playing for Lou Holtz.

"Getting that degree from Notre Dame and being part of a great school with a great athletic history, I am fortunate," DeNiro said. "I had a great athletic career at Roosevelt and Notre Dame."

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