SPRING — An athlete as tough as nails who’s back is strengthened by rods and screws is now overcoming her latest hurdle.

Leah Smith, 15, is a national-level gymnast who is two years removed from an extensive back surgery to correct her spondylolysis with spondylolisthesis. A doctor had previously told her she could no longer do gymnastics because she had fractured her back and a vertebrae had slipped onto another one.

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Leah, who trains at AIM Athletics, now says her back is much better. She advanced to nationals this past season and committed to University of California-Berkeley.

However, she lost her grandfather in a horrific car wreck last December. The man who caused the deadly seven-car pileup on the Grand Parkway pleaded guilty recently and has been sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Leah now carries her grandfather’s ashes in a locket necklace everywhere she goes.