Will Smith, the former Saints defensive end, was shot to death Saturday night following a car crash in New Orleans’ Lower Garden District.
Smith entered an altercation with the driver of a Hummer H2 that rear-ended his Mercedes, causing him to crash into a vehicle in front of him. According to the coroner’s office, Smith and the Hummer driver exchanged heated words before the former Pro Bowler was shot multiple times. Smith’s wife, Racquel, was also shot twice in the right leg. While Smith was declared dead at the scene, Racquel was rushed to the hospital with severe wounds.
The Smith family released a statement on Sunday morning: “On behalf of the Smith family, we are thankful for the outpouring of support and prayers. We ask that you continue to respect the family’s privacy as they grieve the loss of a devoted husband, father and friend.”
Louisiana Police was quick to arrest 28-year-old Cardell Hayes, the driver of the hummer, on charges of second-degree murder. Also, the police declared that the handgun used in the shooting had been recovered. Smith is survived by three children – William, Wynter and Lisa – who were at home at the time of the horrific shooting.
Will Smith: 2009 Super Bowl champion…
Smith, an integral member of the 2009 New Orleans squad that won the Super Bowl, spent all nine seasons of his NFL career with the Saints after being drafted 18th overall in the 2004 Draft. During the course of his career, Smith forged close relationships with Saints owners Tom and Gayle Benson, who expressed shock via a team statement.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Will and his wife Racquel, but more importantly with their children, William, Wynter and Lisa who are suffering and just starting to realize and deal with an unimaginable loss. We are devastated and saddened by Will’s tragic and preventable death due to a senseless act that will leave a lasting scar on our community forever,” the Saints owners said.
The killer is a footballer too…
According to NBC Sports, Smith’s killer was a highschool football star and well known to footballers in the New Orleans area. Tyrann Mathieu, the Cardinals defensive back, revealed on Twitter that he knew Hayes, the driver who mercilessly killed Smith. “I know that dude, he been a hating ass coward.Never knew he’d grow up to be a killer tho…. May you get what you deserve coward.”
Mathieu also highlighted the growing infighting and violence in the city of New Orleans, where young people are acquiring guns on a daily basis. “Until y’all get them crooks out of office and until y’all give these kids something constructive to do, the violence will continue to grow!” wrote the Cardinals player.
The NFL community and the rest of the sports world has come together to mourn the death of Will Smith. Here are some of the tweets:
Heavy Hearts w the senseless passing of our Team Capt. Will Smith. Pray for his wife's recovery and their children. pic.twitter.com/VomR0Sut6M
— Sean Payton (@SeanPayton) April 10, 2016
Mourning the loss of a great friend and teammate, Will Smith. Such a senseless tragedy. Please pray for Racquel and their children.
— Drew Brees (@drewbrees) April 10, 2016
Were praying for the Smith family. I'm hurt to hear about this news. This man had a beautiful family. His life taken away for nothing 😔
— Jermon Bushrod (@j_bushrod7475) April 10, 2016
Devastated. Lord please be with the Smith family at this tragic time. Nonsense man…
— Mark Ingram II (@MarkIngram22) April 10, 2016
I just can't believe this…. absolutely senseless
RIP Will Smith
Please be safe, you just never know#RIPWillSmith
— Chester M. Pitts, II (@ChesterPitts) April 10, 2016
Prayers and condolence sent out to Will Smith #RIP and his beautiful family! So sad man. Good dude he was man!
— LeBron James (@KingJames) April 10, 2016
— Garland Gillen (@garlandgillen) April 10, 2016
— Michael DeMocker (@MichaelDeMocker) April 10, 2016