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Former New Orleans Saints player Will Smith killed in apparent road rage incident

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Police say a suspect has been charged with second-degree murder in the death of former New Orleans Saints defensive end Will Smith, who was shot and killed Saturday night.

He was 34.

New Orleans Police Department spokesman Tyler Gamble on Sunday identified the suspect as Cardell Hayes, 29. Gamble said the investigation was ongoing but did not release further details.

Authorities say Hayes killed Smith after the two argued following a traffic accident in New Orleans late Saturday.

Police say Smith’s wife was also shot and taken to a local hospital for treatment.

Hours before the shooting, he tweeted that he was “having a blast” Saturday night at the French Quarter Fest, an annual event in the famed New Orleans district.

Smith’s former team confirmed his death, and expressed its condolences.

“A senseless and tragic loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with Will Smith — his wife Racquel — his children William, Wynter and Lisa,” said Greg Bensel, the Saints’ vice president of communications.

 

‘Nonsense man’

Smith’s former teammates and other NFL players took to Twitter to mourn his loss.

Mark Ingram, a Heisman-winning running back at Alabama who was drafted by the Saints in 2011, said he was “devastated.”

“Lord please be with the Smith family at this tragic time. Nonsense man …,” he tweeted.

Former Saints player Reggie Bush tweeted “life is too short” following reports of Smith’s death.

Career

Smith ranks fourth among the Saints’ all-time sack leaders and is considered one of the franchise’s great defensive players.

Before joining New Orleans, the New York native was a standout at Ohio State University, earning All-American honors and helping the school win the BCS championship in 2002.

After college, Smith was selected in the first round by the Saints in 2004 and received a Pro Bowl nomination in 2006. Smith had a career-high 13 sacks in the 2009 regular season, the season the Saints won the Super Bowl.

Two years later, though, he was one of four Saints players caught up in the so-called “bountygate” scandal. Smith was suspended for four games.

He was released by New Orleans in 2014, then briefly signed by the New England Patriots but cut before the season began.

Charitable work

Smith’s foundation, Where There’s A Will, There’s A Way, helped to serve high school athletes in his hometown Utica, New York. He also sat on the advisory board of The Artists and Athletes Alliance.

His last public Facebook post shows him at the United Nations on Wednesday, the same day the world body observed the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace.

He wrote on his personal website that he wanted to be an FBI agent following his football career.