Smith and Pinkett Smith welcome their second child, daughter Willow Camille Reign, to the famously tight-knit Smith clan. She joins brothers Jaden, 2, and Trey, 8. The loving couple are dedicated parents – they leave the 2002 Academy Awards, where Smith is a Best Actor nominee, when they find out 1-year-old Willow has a high fever. "If something is really wrong, what kind of jerk am I, sitting at the Oscars?" BabyTalk reports Smith saying. "Then I said, 'But if nothing is wrong and we have to leave the Oscars, then for the rest of her life we've got her!' We can tell her, 'No, you can't go on this prom date. We don't like this guy.' And when she goes, 'But Dad...,' that's when we say, 'Hey Oscar night – we left the Awards for you!"
Smith releases Just the Two of Us, a 32-page, illustrated book based on his 1998 song about being a dedicated divorced father to Trey. Publisher Scholastic Books orders a first printing of 100,000 copies. Smith dedicates the book to his parents and offers "Special props to all of fathers out there holdin' it down."
Smith gains 35 pounds of muscle and undergoes intensive boxing training to play Muhammad Ali in the highly anticipated biopic Ali. Real-life wife Pinkett Smith portrays Ali's first wife Sonji. "He did a good job," Muhammad Ali tells Time. "He's the only guy in the world who could look like me and act like me."
The Academy recognizes African-American actors with three key nominations – Smith (Ali) and Denzel Washington (Training Day) for Best Actor and Halle Berry for Best Actress – at the 74th annual ceremony. Berry goes on to win, and although Smith loses to Washington, he tells EW, "I'm very happy that [black] roles are more available. I think blacks in Hollywood are advancing, however slowly."
Smith and Pinkett Smith serve as executive producers on All of Us, a UPN sitcom about a blended family much like theirs. The show, which stars Duane Martin and LisaRaye, remains on the air for four seasons.
In Hitch, Smith plays Alex "Hitch" Hitchens, a romance expert who helps his lonely male clients woo women. "I didn't pick up as many tips as I brought," he jokes to PEOPLE. "I am Hitch in my real life." Smith's first romantic comedy is a box office hit (the film opens at No.1 and grosses more than $179 million worldwide) and makes history as the first romantic comedy to star minority actors in the lead roles (Eva Mendes plays his love interest).
Smith plays down-on-his-luck salesman Chris Gardner in the real-life story The Pursuit of Happyness, telling Entertainment Weekly that the role is a departure from his "safety zone." He earns a Golden Globe and Oscar nomination for Best Actor. Smith's son Jaden, 8, is cast as his son in the film, giving a critically acclaimed performance. "The best part was when I cried," Jaden tells EW.
Before the release of his post-apocalyptic sci-fi flick, I Am Legend, Smith is listed at No. 5 on Entertainment Weekly's 50 Smartest People in Hollywood issue. Smith is the highest-ranked actor on the list after filmmakers Steven Spielberg and Judd Apatow. The magazine declares, "He has revitalized and redefined old-fashion movie stardom in an era when movie stardom has become small and suspect...achieving a level of global popularity unprecedented for an African-American actor."
Opposite Charlize Theron, Smith plays John Hancock in Hancock, which makes $107 million in the U.S. and another $78 million internationally. The king of the July 4th box office tells USA Today of playing an ambivalent superhero, "It's strange to play a guy like Hancock, who can't find something to feel good about. That's the opposite of who I am."
BIOGRAPHY (top to bottom): Miranda Shen/CPS/LONDON FEATURES; FRANK CONNOR/COLUMBIA; Steve Granitz/WireImage; Everett Collection; MITCH HADDAD/WARNER BROS.; Everett Collection; Columbia; Frank Masi/Columbia Pictures