Will Smith
refer to caption
Smith with the Saints in 2012
No. 91
Position:Defensive end
Personal information
Born:(1981-07-04)July 4, 1981
Queens, New York, U.S.
Died:April 9, 2016(2016-04-09) (aged 34)
New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.
Height:6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Weight:282 lb (128 kg)
Career information
High school:Proctor (Utica, New York)
College:Ohio State (2000–2003)
NFL draft:2004 / Round: 1 / Pick: 18
Career history
 * Offseason and/or practice squad member only
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Total tackles:459
Forced fumbles:20
Fumble recoveries:7
Player stats at NFL.com · PFR

William Raymond Smith III (July 4, 1981 – April 9, 2016) was an American professional football player who was a defensive end in the National Football League (NFL). He played college football for the Ohio State Buckeyes and was selected by the New Orleans Saints in the first round of the 2004 NFL draft, where he played for the entirety of his career. Smith was shot and killed during an altercation after an alcohol related traffic crash.

Early years

Smith was born on July 4, 1981, in Queens, New York, to William and Lisa Smith.[1] He was raised in Utica, New York.[2] At Proctor High School in Utica, Smith was a USA Today All-American pick, and was rated by Prep Football Report as the best defensive line prospect in the state. As a senior, he had 20 sacks.[citation needed]

College career

Smith was a four-year letterman at Ohio State from 2000 to 2003, he helped lead the Buckeyes to the 2002 BCS National Championship, and he was named a first-team All-American the following year.[3]

Professional career

Pre-draft measurables
Height Weight Arm length Hand span 40-yard dash Three-cone drill Vertical jump Broad jump Bench press Wonderlic
6 ft 2+34 in
(1.90 m)
275 lb
(125 kg)
32 in
(0.81 m)
8+34 in
(0.22 m)
4.60 s 7.42 s 38.5 in
(0.98 m)
9 ft 9 in
(2.97 m)
30 reps 23
All values from NFL Combine/Ohio State's Pro Day[4]

New Orleans Saints


Smith was selected as the 18th pick in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft by the New Orleans Saints. He had a successful rookie season with 30 tackles and 7.5 sacks. In 2005, he had 48 tackles and 8.5 sacks and played well enough that the Saints did not re-sign Darren Howard thus making Smith the starter opposite Charles Grant for the 2006 season. Smith gradually established himself as one of the premier defensive ends in the NFL. In his first season as a full-time starter, Smith became a leader of the defensive line and emerged as one of the NFL’s top defensive ends. He was voted to the Pro Bowl and finished tied for 14th in the NFL with a career-best 10.5 sacks. Smith played in 14 games, sitting out the finale with the Saints having clinched a playoff berth and also missing one contest with a knee injury. The club’s No. 1 pick in 2004 was a force from his arrival in New Orleans, notching 33.5 sacks in four seasons. His 26.0 sacks in his first three-season are the second-most in club history in so short a span (Charles Grant, 27.5, 2002–04).

In 2006, he was named to his first Pro Bowl as a starter.


Smith recorded a team high 7 sacks, 66 tackles and a safety in 2007. He sacked Carolina Panthers starting QB David Carr early in the season, ending Carr's season.

In 2008, The Saints agreed to terms with Smith on a six-year, $70 million contract with $26 million guaranteed. The deal made him the third highest paid defensive end in the NFL.[5]

On December 2, 2008, Smith was one of six players suspended for use of Bumetanide a diuretic, which can be used as a masking agent for steroid use. It is believed that the diuretic was found in StarCaps, a weight-loss supplement that he had been taking. Smith's original punishment was announced as a four-game suspension, covering the final four games of the 2008 regular season.[6] Enforcement of the suspension was delayed as other players challenged the decision through federal and state courts, and the league allowed all players involved in the matter to continue playing pending a final resolution of the case.[7] Smith's suspension was later reduced to a two games and an additional two lost paychecks, and was served at the beginning of the 2011 NFL season.[8]

Smith sacks Jason Campbell.

Under new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams in 2009, Smith had a career high 13.0 sacks, 49 tackles, 3 forced fumbles, and one interception. He was honorable mention All-Pro by AP and SN. In 2010, he had 39 tackles and 5.5 sacks.


In 2011, Smith had 35 tackles and 6.5 sacks. On May 2, 2012, Smith was suspended by the NFL for the first four games of the 2012 season because of his alleged role in the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal.[9] Smith's suspension was ultimately overturned on appeal to former commissioner Paul Tagliabue.[10] Smith started all 16 games of the 2012 season, and was credited with 58 tackles and six sacks.

For the 2013 season, Smith was slated to move to the outside linebacker position in the 3–4 defense favored by the Saints' new defensive coordinator, Rob Ryan. However, Smith suffered a knee injury (a torn ACL) in the Saints' third preseason game, against the Houston Texans on August 25, 2013, and was reported to be out for the season.[11] On August 27, the Saints placed Smith on injured reserve, ending his season.

On February 12, 2014, Smith was released by the team.[12]

New England Patriots


On April 5, 2014, Smith signed with the New England Patriots.[13] He was released on August 24, 2014, during the preseason.[14]

NFL career statistics

Year Team GP Tackles Int & Fum
Cmb Solo Ast Sck Sfty PD Int FF FR TD
2004 NO 16 40 30 10 7.5 0 2 0 6 1 0
2005 NO 16 60 48 12 8.5 0 4 0 2 1 0
2006 NO 14 49 31 18 10.5 0 3 0 3 1 0
2007 NO 16 66 47 19 7.0 1 3 0 2 3 0
2008 NO 16 61 43 18 3.0 0 1 0 1 0 0
2009 NO 16 49 37 12 13.0 0 3 1 3 0 0
2010 NO 15 39 34 5 5.5 0 5 1 1 0 0
2011 NO 14 35 22 13 6.5 0 2 0 2 0 0
2012 NO 16 58 33 25 6.0 0 2 0 0 1 0
Career 139 459 326 133 67.5 1 25 2 20 7 0

w2ttw 92889

Personal life

Smith was married to Racquel (née Joseph).[15] They had two children together and he had another child from a previous relationship.[16]

Road incident and death

On April 9, 2016, Smith was involved in a traffic collision in which a Hummer, driven by 28-year-old Cardell Hayes, rear-ended Smith's Mercedes-Benz G Wagon in an ongoing confrontation that allegedly[17] started with Smith's vehicle accidentally rear-ending the Hummer.[17] The final collision caused Hayes' vehicle to collide with the vehicle in front of him, and was hard enough to break the rear window in the Mercedes.[17] Moments earlier and less than two blocks away, in the Lower Garden District of New Orleans, Hayes’ vehicle had been hit by Smith’s vehicle. Smith's vehicle contained Smith, his wife Racquel, and two unnamed passengers.[18][19] In the second collision, Smith and Hayes exchanged words, when Hayes fired a handgun, killing Smith and injuring his wife. Hayes was arrested at the scene.[20] During investigation, a fully loaded 9-millimeter handgun was found in Smith's car.[21] Hayes and a passenger in his vehicle claimed self-defense.[22] After an investigation, the New Orleans Police Department charged Hayes with second-degree murder. Results of a postmortem toxicology report concluded that Smith had a blood alcohol content of .235 on the night of the incident, or nearly three times the legal limit in Louisiana.[19][23][24] Smith was buried on April 16, 2016.[25]

Trial began on December 5, 2016, in Orleans Parish Criminal District Court.[26] On December 11, an Orleans Parish jury found Cardell Hayes guilty of manslaughter in the shooting of Will Smith and attempted manslaughter of his wife, Racquel Smith.[27] On April 20, 2017, Hayes was sentenced to 25 years in prison for the charge of manslaughter, and 15 years for the charge of attempted manslaughter, to be served concurrently.[28][29][27][30][31] On April 19, the day before the sentence, a judge denied Hayes' motion for a new trial.[32]

Three years to the day after Hayes was sentenced, however, the United States Supreme Court handed down the Ramos v. Louisiana ruling, which declared that non-unanimous criminal convictions violate the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments. Because Hayes had not exhausted his appeals, he was directly impacted by the Ramos decision, and the decision denying a new trial was reversed on November 19, 2020.[33] On January 11, 2021, the Supreme Court vacated Hayes' conviction, pending a new trial. Because Hayes was initially convicted on manslaughter, he cannot face charges greater than manslaughter in the retrial.[34] On January 27, 2024, Hayes was found guilty of manslaughter at his re-trial where he faces up to 40 years in prison.[35]


  1. ^ "Will Smith". Ohio State Buckeyes. Archived from the original on January 31, 2007.
  2. ^ "New Orleans Saints: Will Smith". New Orleans Saints. National Football League. Retrieved February 21, 2013.
  3. ^ "Ohio State Athletics Loses All-American Will Smith :: The Ohio State University official athletic site :: Football". Ohiostatebuckeyes.com. February 4, 2016. Retrieved April 14, 2016.
  4. ^ "2004 NFL Draft Scout Will Smith College Football Profile". DraftScout.com. Retrieved January 27, 2024.
  5. ^ "Smith, Saints agree on six-year, $70 million extension". Espn.go.com. June 11, 2008. Retrieved April 14, 2016.
  6. ^ Six Players Suspended for Diuretics, The New York Times, Published: December 2, 2008.
  7. ^ Court clears way for NFL suspensions in StarCaps case, Associated Press (via USAtoday.com) Updated April 28, 2011.
  8. ^ NFL suspends Vikes' Williams, Saints' Smith in StarCaps case, Nfl.com Updated: September 3, 2011.
  9. ^ "Four suspended for Saints' bounty program, Vilma for all of 2012 | ProFootballTalk". Profootballtalk. May 2, 2012. Retrieved April 14, 2016.
  10. ^ "Saints player bounty suspensions overturned on appeal". NFL.com. Retrieved September 8, 2012.
  11. ^ Larry Holder, "New Orleans Saints veteran linebacker Will Smith will miss 2013 season with knee injury, source confirms", Times-Picayune, August 26, 2013.
  12. ^ "New Orleans Saints part ways with Jabari Greer, Roman Harper, Will Smith and Jonathan Vilma" Archived February 15, 2014, at the Wayback Machine, NewOrleansSaints.com, February 12, 2014.
  13. ^ "Patriots sign DE Will Smith". New England Patriots.
  14. ^ "Patriots cut Tommy Kelly, Will Smith, James Anderson". NFL.com.
  15. ^ "Will Smith's Wife Racquel Smith & Children". FabWags. April 10, 2016. Retrieved April 10, 2016.
  16. ^ Kamla, Micah. "Will Smith". New Orleans Saints. Retrieved April 14, 2016.
  17. ^ a b c Flynn, Sean (October 3, 2016). "The Real Story Behind the Shooting of Former New Orleans Saint Will Smith".
  18. ^ "Video shows possible hit-and-run before Will Smith shooting". 9news.com. February 29, 2016. Retrieved April 14, 2016.
  19. ^ a b Mike Triplett (June 1, 2016). "Will Smith had blood-alcohol level of 0.235 on night he died". espn.go.com. Retrieved June 1, 2016.
  20. ^ Vergara, Andre (April 10, 2016). "Former Saints DE Will Smith dead after he and wife shot in road-rage attack". Fox Sports. Retrieved April 10, 2016.
  21. ^ "Police find loaded gun in Will Smith's vehicle during investigation". NFL.com. Retrieved April 14, 2016.
  22. ^ Flynn, Sean (October 3, 2016). "Saint Will and the Man Who Shot Him". www.gq.com. GQ. Retrieved October 4, 2016.
  23. ^ Sayre, Katherine (April 10, 2016). "Will Smith shooting: What we know Sunday". Times-Picayune. Retrieved April 10, 2016.
  24. ^ Tim May (April 10, 2016). "Former Ohio State defensive end Will Smith shot to death in New Orleans; ex-teammates, coaches in shock". The Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved April 10, 2016.
  25. ^ "After public memorial, private funeral and burial for Buckeye, NFL player Will Smith Saturday". April 16, 2016.
  26. ^ TEGNA. "Will Smith Shooting Trial - Trial Preview: Reconstructing the Will Smith shooting".
  27. ^ a b "Cardell Hayes found guilty of manslaughter in Will Smith shooting". USA Today.
  28. ^ "Widow of Saints star Will Smith upset at killer's 25 years". MSN. Archived from the original on April 24, 2017. Retrieved February 20, 2020.
  29. ^ "Judge sentences man to 25 years in prison for killing Will Smith". NFL. Retrieved April 20, 2017.
  30. ^ "Will Smith killer Cardell Hayes' sentencing delayed to March 27".
  31. ^ Boyette, Chris (April 21, 2017). "Will Smith death: Man who killed NFL star sentenced to 25 years". CNN.
  32. ^ "Judge denies new trial for Will Smith killer Cardell Hayes".
  33. ^ "Man convicted of killing Will Smith to get new trial". Yahoo!sports. Retrieved November 20, 2020.
  34. ^ "U.S. Supreme Court tosses out conviction of Will Smith's killer, Cardell Hayes". wwltv.com. January 11, 2021. Retrieved January 12, 2021.
  35. ^ "MSN". www.msn.com. Retrieved January 27, 2024.