Former New Orleans Saints player once wrote a love letter to his wife and children, telling them to stay strong and carry on after his death.
On Saturday, Smith’s family and friends saw the letter earlier than they ever expected — when the football star was laid to rest, six days after being gunned down in a random act of rage.
Pallbearers, including New Orleans Saints players Jo Lonn Dunbar (first position, far side), Cam Jordan (fourth position, far side) and Deuce McAllister (third position, near side), carry Will Smith’s coffin.
Hundreds gathered in the streets of New Orleans Friday night for a second line celebrating the Queens-born cornerback. Grieving fans wearing black and gold Saints gear paid their respects, as photos from Smith’s life and videos from his famous games played on video screens.
The next day, Smith’s loved ones and former teammates, including Jonathan Vilma and Mike McKenzie, united for a private ceremony at the Saenger Theater.
On the back of Smith’s obituary was a note he penned in 2011, “A Love Letter from Will,” telling his family how to handle his death when it came.
Published on NOLA.com, it read:
“When I die I don’t want people to cry. I lived a wonderful life. I was very gifted with a great family, lovely kids and a great wife, who put up with my BS!!! I have no regrets. I want my kids to grow up to be whoever they want to be. I don’t want you to dictate your life based upon what society says is right. We all create our right and wrong.”
Smith, 34, is survived by his wife Racquel Smith — who was wounded in the shooting that claimed her husband’s life — and three children.