Chris Smith, who was a defensive end in the NFL for eight seasons, died suddenly at just 31-years-old, according to West Rowan High School in North Carolina, the high school that he attended as a young man. His cause of death has not yet been released.
After playing for the Arkansas Razorbacks in college, Smith began his NFL career playing for the Cincinnati Bengals, then played for the Cleveland Browns, Carolina Panthers, Las Vegas Raiders, Baltimore Ravens, and Houston Texans before switching from NFL to XFL and playing for the Seattle Sea Dragons.
West Rowan High School, announcing his passing in a tweet, said, “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!”
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
Commenting on the West Rowan High School football team’s post, people jumped in to offer their condolences and say things like:
“At the age of (31) his life had just begun and playing football for a Professional football team, is ever man’s dream. I only pray that He didn’t die from something stupid,and maybe it was just his time. Anyway God Blessed this young man and may he rest in Peace.”
“It’s sad when you hear of young people passing. I don’t know what happened. But I do know TO BE ABSENT FROM THE BODY IS TO BE PRESENT WITH THE LORD. My prayers are with his family. REST IN PEACE.🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼”
“Praying for his daughter, his family, his friends, and the whole West Rowan community.”
Smith’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, tweeted about his passing as well, saying, “Rest in Peace Chris. Condolences to all his family, friends and loved ones. We will miss you.”
Confirming Chris Smith’s passing and describing his career, the Salisbury Post reported:
He was a fifth-round draft pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2014 and played three seasons there.
His best NFL seasons were in 2017 with the Cincinnati Bengals — he had three sacks — and in 2018 with the Cleveland Browns, where he started two games and was a regular contributor.
His 2019 season with Cleveland was marred by the tragic death of his girlfriend, Petara Cordero, who 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. Smith and Cordero had a daughter shortly before Cordero’s death.
“Chris was one of the kindest players and people that I’ve ever met,” Browns All-Pro defensive end Myles Garrett said. “He was willing to give you the shirt off his back for you. It’s hard just knowing people like that can go at any time.”
He played some for the Las Vegas Raiders in 2020. In 2021, he was briefly with the Baltimore Ravens and then played in four games for the Houston Texans.
Featured image credit: By Jeffrey Beall – Own work, CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=64245508
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