Former Saints player Will Smith was shot to death in New Orleans on Saturday night (April 9), following a traffic accident. He was just 34 years old.
According to reports, his Mercedes SUV was rear-ended by a Hummer H2 in the city’s Lower Garden District, causing him to strike another vehicle. After, he was involved in an exchange with the other driver, who shot him multiple times.
Smith’s wife was also shot twice in the right leg.
When paramedics arrived, Smith was pronounced dead at the scene, while his wife was taken to a hospital.
Smith’s family released a statement Sunday morning, confirming his death: “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.”
The driver of the Hummer has been identified as 28-year-old Cardell Hayes, who has been charged with second-degree murder. The handgun used in the shooting has also been recovered.
“A senseless and tragic loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with Will Smith — his wife Racquel — his children William, Wynter and Lisa,” the Saints said in a statement from a spokesman.
Smith was drafted by the Saints with the 18th overall pick in 2004 out of Ohio State. He spent all nine of his NFL seasons with the Saints and last played in 2012. He was a Pro Bowler in 2006 and ranks fourth in Saints history with 67.5 career sacks.