The NFL community is mourning the loss of former defensive end Chris Smith, who passed away on Monday at the age of 31. His high school alma mater, West Rowan High School in North Carolina, announced his death on Twitter, but did not reveal the cause of his death.
“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!”
Smith played eight seasons in the NFL, starting with the Jacksonville Jaguars, who drafted him in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL Draft. He also played for the Cincinnati Bengals and the Cleveland Browns, before signing with the Seattle Sea Dragons of the XFL in 2022.
Smith was known for his speed and athleticism, as well as his passion and leadership. He recorded 67 tackles, 9.5 sacks, four forced fumbles and three pass deflections in his NFL career. He also had two sacks and a forced fumble in five games with the Sea Dragons.
Smith faced a personal tragedy in 2019, when his girlfriend and mother of his daughter, Petara Cordero, was killed in a car accident. Smith was driving his Lamborghini when a tire blew out, causing him to hit a median. Cordero got out of the car and was struck by another vehicle. Smith was not injured in the incident.
Smith’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, confirmed his death on Twitter and expressed his condolences to his family and friends.
“Rest in paradise Chris Smith. Hometown hero and a brother to everyone. Such a kind soul. This is Heartbreaking,” former Browns teammate David Njoku tweeted.
“Rest in Peace Chris,” tweeted Smith’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus. “Condolences to all his family, friends and loved ones. We will miss you.”
Smith is survived by his daughter Haven Harris Smith, who was born four weeks before Cordero’s death.
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