Smith didn't know any of the victims of the July 20 shooting in Aurora, which left 12 people dead and 58 injured. But the news hit home because he says his oldest son Peyton was at a similar midnight showing of "The Dark Knight Returns" in Charlotte that same night.
Smith said the thought of losing one of his family members was frightening and was moved to do something to help.
"I can't imagine getting someone severely injured, one, and then, two, trying to figure out how to pay for it," Smith said after arriving for the start of the Panthers training camp.
Smith made the donation to the city of Aurora, which will distribute the funds to the victims.
Smith is involved in a number of charitable organizations across the country, many of which go unnoticed.
But he says he made the donation public by having his agent send out a press release because he wanted to challenge others in high-profile positions to use their platform to step up and help contribute to the cause.
"Economic times are tough right now and (my family) has the means to do it," Smith said. "We have a chance to lead and hopefully other people will see that. People get prideful and say, 'Hey, this guy did that. Why don't I do more?' ... I don't think it's a publicity job, I think it's a chance for people to think about what are you here for? Are you here to store up your treasures or are you going to give it to people who are obviously in need?"
Smith arrived at training camp on Friday with a new beard and a hat that read "I love my life."
"I do love my life," Smith said. "All of the people that are going through some of the things they're going through, sometimes you need a perspective."Suggest a correction