The University of Miami posthumously awarded former Saints defensive end Will Smith a master’s degree in business administration during a ceremony Thursday.
Smith, 34, earned the degree through the university’s inaugural “Executive MBA for Artists and Athletes” program before he was fatally shot following a traffic incident in New Orleans the night of April 9, said his publicist, Lauren Renschler.
Smith’s 33-year-old wife, Racquel, who suffered a bullet wound to each leg on the night her husband was killed, accepted the degree while seated in a wheelchair. She received a loud round of applause when introduced at the ceremony at the Bank United Center arena in Coral Gables, Florida, a video provided by Renschler showed.
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In a statement provided to the news media last month, the Miami School of Business’ dean, Gene Anderson, said Smith “was a wonderful student, easygoing, well-liked, and respected by all of his classmates, faculty and staff.” Smith was set to graduate from the MBA program in July, Anderson said.
Cardell Hayes, a New Orleans East tow-truck company owner, was recently indicted on charges of second-degree murder and attempted murder following Will Smith’s killing and Racquel Smith’s injuries.
Aside from his wife, Smith is survived by his children William, Wynter and Lisa.
Smith, a resident of Kenner, was a member of the Saints from 2004 through 2013, helping the team reach its only two NFC title games as well as capture its lone Super Bowl championship fewer than five years after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans.
He accumulated the fourth-most quarterback sacks in Saints history during his career and was a one-time Pro Bowler.
While he was in college, Smith helped the Ohio State Buckeyes win a national championship by defeating the University of Miami in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl.