Abert V. Smith was born on August 21, 1946 in Union, SC to Mr. and Mrs. Early Smith. He is the seventh of nine children. Smith was stricken with tubercolosis in the fourth grade. He spent time educating himself at the South Carolina TB sanitariium at State Park, SC. In the twelfth grade, his doctor, Hubert D, Bynoe, picked up assignments from a nearby high school so Smith could graguate.
Smith earned a diploma and enrolled at Friendship Junior College in Rock Hill, SC. He took Honors Math and English classes during the first semester, but decided to quit college after making the dean's list.
After working as a janitor at Spartanburg General Hospital, he was the first of two blacks to be accepted at the Carolina School of Broadcasting in Charlotte, NC. He worked as disc jockey at WHYZ radio station in Greenville, SC and WHCQ radio station in Spartanburg,SC.
He went back to college and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration in 1977 with honors. He earned a J.D. degree from the University of South Carolina School of Law in 1980. Smith worked as a lawyer with two firms before opening his own law firm in 1989.