Chelsi Smith, Miss Universe 1995, has died at the age of 45.
According to a report from TMZ, the groundbreaking beauty queen passed away after a battle with liver cancer. In 1994, Smith became the first ever woman of African-American descent to win Miss Texas USA. From there, she went on to take home the crown as Miss USA 1995. Later that year, she won the title of Miss Universe at the pageant in Namibia. Her Miss Universe win was the first time in 15 years that an American woman took home the crown in the Miss Universe pageant.
Shanna Moakler, Smith’s friend, and the runner-up in the 1995 Miss USA pageant as Miss New York, took to Instagram to share a beautiful tribute to her friend.
“Having a hard time writing this. Found out the news of my good friend passing. I really don’t know how to express to the world what a funny, loving, smart! She was so f****** smart… too smart for her own good,” she wrote. “She changed my life. If it wasn’t for her, her beauty and her energy, her incredible destiny, I wouldn’t even be where I am today. Even when she was sick, she was positive and radiant and never stopped laughing. I was crying, and she was cheering me up! That’s who she was.
“Pageantry will never be the same, the world and my heart will not be the same. I will cherish my last conversations with you, I wish I was a better friend or could have done more. I know you are meant for bigger things then this world offered you. Visit me in my dreams queen I will be missing you and all your witty banter. Love love love you. Godspeed.”
The Miss USA & Miss Teen USA organization took to Twitter to express their sadness at Smith’s passing, too. Along with a beautiful picture of Smith during her reign, the organization sent its condolences to Smith’s friends and family.
The Miss Universe community sends sincerest condolences to the family and friends of Chelsi Smith, Miss USA & Miss Universe 1995. pic.twitter.com/zYfPwXVeY2— Miss USA & Miss Teen USA (@MissUSA) September 9, 2018
Her fans also sent out plenty of messages expressing their sadness the loss of such a wonderful woman who passed away at such an incredibly young age, according to a Yahoo! Lifestyle report.
In addition to her beauty pageant work, the former beauty queen modeled and did commercials for Hawaiian Tropic, Jantzen, Pontiac, and Venus Swimwear.
The American Cancer Society reported that each year in the United States, nearly 11,610 women are diagnosed with liver cancer out of a total of 42,220 new cases. Also, each year roughly 9,660 women die from liver cancer, and overall a total of 30,200 people die from the disease. Plus, since 1980, liver cancer rates have tripled, and it more often affects men than women.
Worldwide, 600,000 deaths occur each year due to the cancer.