Former Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Chris Smith has reportedly passed away at 31.
The Twitter account for the football team at West Rowan in Mount Ulla, North Carolina, and his high school alma mater, also shared the news.
The post reads:
“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!”
Smith, a University of Arkansas alumnus, played for the Bengals during the 2017 NFL season. He was taken in the fifth round (159th overall) of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars. The North Carolina native played in Jacksonville for three seasons before joining the Bengals via a trade. In return, the Jaguars got a conditional pick in the 2018 draft.
Smith finished his final year in Jacksonville with four tackles, one quarterback hit, and one sack in six games. He was brought to Cincinnati to help a defense that finished 19th in sacks the previous season.
His lone season with the Bengals proved to be his best. He finished the season with career highs of 26 tackles, nine quarterback hits, and three sacks in 16 games.
Chris Smith cause of death yet to be revealed
The cause of death for Chris Smith remains unknown for now. However, he tragically lost his then-girlfriend and the mother of his daughter, Petara Cordero, in a 2019 car accident. The unfortunate incident happened at around 2 a.m. on September 11 while they were speeding through the I-90.
After his stint with the Cincinnati Bengals, Smith signed a three-year contract to join the Cleveland Browns. He had 21 tackles, one sack, and a forced fumble in 2018. However, he lasted only two seasons before getting waived.
He also suited up for the Carolina Panthers and the Baltimore Ravens but did not make the main roster for both teams. Chris Smith finished his eight-season NFL career with 80 tackles, 11 sacks, and three forced fumbles.
He revived his football career this year by playing for the Seattle Sea Dragons. Smith has made five tackles in four games for the XFL squad.
According to his Instagram account, he is also the co-owner of the Charlotte, North Carolina restaurant Cloud Southend and an ambassador for the Nova Men clothing line.