There was a public memorial in New Orleans on Friday for former New Orleans Saints defensive end Will Smith, who was shot and killed following a road-rage incident. The visitation was held at the Saints’ practice facility to host fans, friends and members of the Saints.
The 34-year-old Smith was shot and killed by Cardell Hayes, a 28-year-old, late last Saturday, according to police. The traffic dispute led to Hayes gunning down Smith — and video later showed that Smith hit Hayes’ hummer, before he followed the former NFL player before the shooting.
Hayes allegedly shot Smith seven times in his back and an additional shot in his torso. Racquel, his wife, was also shot twice in his legs — but survived her injuries.
She was in a wheelchair and was wearing sunglasses, as she attended the visitation. She did not speak with reporters.
Earlier this week, the New Orleans Police Department said that Smith had a gun in his vehicle. Also, a witness claimed that Smith was going for his gun when Hayes feared for his life and shot.
Even Hayes’ attorney has been stating that his client was not the aggressor and even said, ‘that he’ll be vindicated when the true story is known.’ Smith’s lawyer said that Hayes was ‘enraged’ at the time and said that the Smith’s were the victims.
Hayes is currently on jail on a $1 million bond.
Smith last played for the Saints in 2013 after retiring — but the Smith’s stayed in New Orleans. They were also active in local charities in the area.
He joined the team in 2004 and was with the team in 2005 the team did not have a home following Hurricane Katrina. They had to be a ‘road’ team throughout the season as the Louisiana Superdome was not ready as it was used as a refugee facility after the storm.
Then, he was there with the team when the Superdome re-opened against the Atlanta Falcons on Monday Night Football on ESPN. He had 457 tackles, 67.5 sacks and two interceptions in his career that including a Pro Bowl in 2006 and a Super Bowl XLIV win over the Indianapolis Colts.
“I came out today because this was a great man. And he did a lot for the city and we got to watch him every Sunday and look up to him,” said Lance Ural, from New Orleans, who was wearing a Saints T-shirt as he walked out of the building.
“For something like this to happen, it’s only right that we pay our respects.”
During the visitation, there were no speeches or a ceremony, as those in attended watched. Smith was in a Silver casket — and is expected to be laid to rest on Saturday. On the casket, there was a bouquet of white orchids.
By the casket, there was three large photos of his playing career. There was also video boards that showed additional photos of Smith during his time on the field and off.
“It broke my heart,” Khantrell Wagner said. “It just saddens me that this could have been avoided.”
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