How Did Chris Smith Die? Fans Mourns As Ex-NFL Star Dies Suddenly At 31
NFL legend Chris Smith died, aged 31, hours after playing for the XFL's Seattle Sea Dragons. The ex-Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns ace died shortly after the 30-12 win over the St Louis Battlehawks. Smith’s death was announced by his old high school, West Rowan, based in North Carolina.
In a tweet, West Rowan Football wrote, "Rest in Peace to a West Rowan Legend! Chris was a better person than he was a player! The impact he had on those around him will be remembered forever!"
Rest in Peace to a West Rowan Legend! Chris was a better person than he was player! The impact he had on those around him will be remembered forever! pic.twitter.com/9oVKyM4Gs2— West Rowan Football (@WRowan_Football) April 18, 2023
Smith's death was confirmed in an obituary by the Salisbury Post on Monday. "It's a tragic loss for his family, friends, former teammates, and for Rowan County," the outlet wrote. According to the obituary, Smith, who played eight seasons in the NFL, was "the ultimate give-back guy" and was known as a "generous donor to local schools and projects." A cause of death has not been shared.
"Rest in Peace Chris," Drew Rosenhaus, Smith's sports agent, wrote in a statement. "Condolences to all his family, friends, and loved ones. We will miss you." As reported by Yahoo, Smith starred collegiately at Arkansas and was named a second-team All-SEC selection during the 2013 season. He was a defensive playmaker and team captain and was also named the 2009 Shrine Bowl Defensive MVP.
Rest in Peace Chris. Condolences to all his family, friends and loved ones. We will miss you pic.twitter.com/alpUAeqIhY— Drew Rosenhaus (@DrewJRosenhaus) April 18, 2023
Defensive End Smith only joined the Dragons in March of this year after spending eight seasons in the NFL playing for seven different teams. The 2014 NFL draftee's death comes just four years on from the tragic death of his partner, the mother of his daughter, Petara Cordero, according to The Sun. The Associated Press reported that Petara Cordero was killed when she was hit by a car after she exited the vehicle he was driving. Cordero was standing on the road’s shoulder when the vehicle driven by a 47-year-old woman smashed into the passenger side of Smith’s car.
Many of Smith's NFL friends and former teammates paid tribute to the athlete on social media. Denver Broncos star Russell Wilson wrote, "RIP Chris Smith. Praying for your loved ones," in a tweet. Arkansas media personality John Nabors called Smith "an all-time great Razorback" on Tuesday. "Just saw the news that former Razorback DE Chris Smith passed away at the age of 31," Nabors said. "That's just devastating. That guy was an amazing player on the field & an even more amazing guy off of it."
New England Patriots linebacker Brooks Ellis remembered that Smith's "smile and personality could light up a room," when honoring his friend. "Deeply saddened to hear about Chris Smith's passing. He was not only a great leader, teammate, and monster of a player, but more so an amazing person," Ellis wrote.
To know him was to love him. Heaven got a good one. We’ll never forget you and we’ll always miss you. RIP Chris 💔 pic.twitter.com/KCrceHjAKf— Baker Mayfield (@bakermayfield) April 18, 2023
Former Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield also expressed his sympathy for Smith. “To know him was to love him,” Mayfield posted on Twitter along with a photo of Smith leading a huddle of Browns. “Heaven got a good one. We’ll never forget you and we’ll always miss you. RIP Chris.”