Former Saint Will Smith Murdered
Shock and Sadness Strikes the Saints’ Community
By: Stefan Muro
On Saturday, April 9, Will Smith was shot multiple times after an altercation that spurred from a wreck that involved the suspect and the victims. The incident took place around 11:30 p.m., near the intersection of Sophie Wright Place and Felicity Street off of Magazine Street. Witnesses say they heard the crash, shortly followed by 6 to 8 gunshots. Smiths’ wife, Racquel, was shot twice and was transported to the hospital and the 34-year old ex-Saint was pronounced dead at the scene. Twenty-eight year old, Cardell Hayes is in custody and charged with a second-degree murder of Smith. Hayes also has past charges that include illegal carrying of a weapon, drugs, and paraphernalia.
William Raymond Smith III was born on July 4, 1981 in Queens, New York and was raised in Utica, New York by his parents William and Lisa Smith. He was a USA Today All-American defensive lineman for Proctor High School after recording 20 sacks in his senior season. In 2002, He was a vital piece to Jim Tressel’s national champion Ohio State Buckeyes. In 2004, The New Orleans Saints drafted him in the 1st round of the NFL Draft. He spent the next 9 years as a cornerstone of the defense, a leader of the locker room, and a true champion of the community.
With 10.5 sacks and 3 forced fumbles, Smith was in his 3rd season when his efforts powered the Saints to the 2006 NFC Championship game; which also earned him his only Pro Bowl selection. He was voted defensive captain the following season. In 2009, Smith recorded 49 tackles, 3 forced fumbles, 1 interception and a career high 13 sacks; which ranked 2nd highest in the NFL that season. Those efforts earned him his only All-Pro selection and the Super Bowl XLIV title Who Dat Nation will never forget. After 9 years with the Saints, he finished as the 4th highest tackler in the club’s history.
Will Smith was as much of a champion on the field as he was off of it. He and Racquel founded the “Where There’s a Will There’s a Way” foundation which financially supports the educational needs of the at-risk children of New Orleans and Smith’s hometown of Utica, New York. Since 2012, the Smith family has hosted the annual Smith Family Christmas where 60 selected families are given a holiday dinner, presents, and a full tour of the Saints’ practice facility. The Smiths have also hosted celebrity waiter events to benefit Grace House and Bridge House, which are foundations that focuses on providing treatment for those addicted to drugs and alcohol. For the past 8 years, Smith has also been known to host an “Evening With All-Stars,” celebrating the accomplishments of the regions’ best high school athletes.
It is easy to say that Will Smith will never be forgotten for what he has done for city and its gridiron franchise. Current Saint and former understudy of Smith, Cameron Jordan, tweeted, “Woke up and can’t make sense of this senseless killing of Will Smith, Lord please watch over the Smith family and give them strength.” Recent Saint,
Benjamin Watson, also tweeted, “ I love Will and his fam. My class of ’04 brother. Please pray for the comfort of his wife, precious children and the millions that cheered him on.” Saints’ head coach, Sean Payton, also Twitter and said, “Heavy Hearts w the senseless killing of our Team Capt. Will Smith. Pray for his wife’s recovery and their children.”
Will is survived by his wife, Racquel and his children William, Wynter, and Lisa.