Gone but not forgotten. Former New Orleans Saints player Will Smith was mourned by hundreds of friends, fans, and former teammates at a memorial held in his honor on Friday, April 15, less than a week after he was shot and killed in an apparent road-rage incident.
The somber event was held at the Saints’ training facility in Metairie, Louisiana, and a lone horn player played “When the Saints Go Marching In” as mourners filled the indoor practice field, according to Yahoo News.
Smith’s wife, Racquel, attended the memorial in her first public appearance since the footballer’s untimely death, wearing dark sunglasses and sitting in a wheelchair to pay her respects to her late husband. (Racquel, who was also in the car at the time of the April 9 incident, was shot in the leg and hospitalized shortly afterward.)
The couple shared three young children together, two sons and a daughter.
Smith’s father, Will Smith Sr., was also present at the service, along with Saints head coach Sean Payton, assistant coach Joe Vitt and owner Tom Benson.
The athlete’s casket was adorned with a giant bouquet of flowers, and enlarged photos of Smith in uniform throughout his career were displayed behind it.
On Saturday, April 9, Smith and his wife were driving eastbound when their Mercedes-Benz SUV was rear-ended by a Hummer H2, which then caused their car to hit a Chevrolet Impala that was traveling along the same street.
According to a spokesperson for the New Orleans Police Department, Smith and the Hummer driver “exchanged words,” after which the Hummer driver “produced a handgun and shot the male victim (Smith) multiple times and his 34-year-old wife twice in the right leg.”
The suspect has since been identified as Cardell Hayes, who has maintained his innocence.
Kim Kardashian, who is friends with Racquel, sent her condolences via Instagram on Monday, April 11.
My heart breaks for my sweet friend Rockie. I’m deeply saddened by your loss. Will, you were an angel to your family on earth and you will continue to be in the life after. May God bless you! Sending so many prayers to her and her family!!! May the Lord surround her and her children with love and protection during this devastating time.
“My heart breaks for my sweet friend Rockie. I’m deeply saddened by your loss,” she captioned a selfie of the two women together. “Will, you were an angel to your family on earth and you will continue to be in the life after.”
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