Former NFL defensive end Chris Smith has died at the age of 31, just hours after playing for the Seattle Sea Dragons at the XFL, according to his West Rowan High School in North Carolina. No cause of his death was announced.
"Rest in Peace to a West Rowan legend!" West Rowan High School's football account tweeted Monday. "Chris was a better person than he was player! The impact he had on those around him will be remembered forever!" His death was confirmed by the Salisbury Post.
No cause of death has been given as of yet. Smith participated in Sunday's Seattle XFL victory over the St. Louis Battlehawks. The 2014 NFL Draft selection played for seven different teams over the course of eight seasons until concluding his professional career in 2021 with the Houston Texans.
Petara Cordero, Smith's girlfriend, was killed in 2019 when his Lamborghini hit the median due to a tire problem.
Cordero got out of the car and was standing by the side of the road when another vehicle crashed into the side of his car. A 47-year-old woman later admitted to drinking, which resulted in the crash
The 26-year-old Cordero had given birth to their first child just a month prior to her death.
Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku added in his own tribute: "Rest in paradise Chris Smith. Hometown hero and a brother to everyone.
"Such a kind soul. This is Heartbreaking."
Tributes Pour In
Tributes started pouring in the moment news of Smith's death broke. "RIP Chris Smith, Your smile lit up the room and you spread positivity everywhere you went," Jerry Mitchell, a cornerback who played with Smith in college, tweeted.
"You always had a passion for working hard, chasing your dreams, and keeping God first!
"Your legacy lives on as a person who spread love with a smile. Love you bro," Mitchell added.
Roy Miller III, a defensive tackle who spent nine seasons in the NFL, wrote: "My brother I was just thinking how proud I was of you chasing your dreams in the XFL you made a whole room laugh when you laughed you always found a way to make any situation positive RIH Smitty."
Broderick Green, another Arkansas running-back and team-mate of Smith, tweeted: "Wow. I can't believe it. RIP to the nicest teammate I've ever ha. A pure joy to be around."
Smith was selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL Draft. He later signed with the Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans, Carolina Panthers, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, and Las Vegas Raiders before leaving the league in 2021.
He signed with Seattle in the XFL in March in an effort to make a comeback in football, and he played five times for the team before his death.