Photos of Will Smith during his time with the New Orleans Saints.
The New Orleans Saints have announced today that former defensive end Will Smith will be inducted posthumously into the club’s Ring of Honor during halftime of Sunday's contest against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Smith, who was a first round pick of the club in 2004 (18th overall) and played for them from 2004-13, will join Owner Tom Benson, K Morten Andersen, LB Rickey Jackson, QB Archie Manning and T William Roaf in the Ring of Honor, which was established in 2013.
Smith, who passed away in 2016 and is survived by his wife Racquel and their three children, William, Wynter and Lisa, made an immediate impact on the football field for the Saints as a rookie in 2004, when he recorded 7.5 sacks and five forced fumbles and was selected to the Pro Football Weekly All-Rookie team. Two seasons later in 2006, he led the club with 10.5 takedowns and added three forced fumbles as he powered a club defensively that reached the NFC Championship for the first time and he was selected to the Pro Bowl. The following season, Smith was named a defensive team captain in his fourth season as a professional. In 2009, Smith started all 16 games and posted a career-high 13 sacks to rank second in the NFC, adding 77 tackles (42 solo), his first career interception, four passes defensed and three forced fumbles as New Orleans captured Super Bowl XLIV. Overall, Smith appeared in 139 career games with 120 starts for the Saints and posted career totals of 618 tackles (363 solo), 67.5 sacks, two interceptions, 24 passes defensed, 19 forced fumbles and seven fumble recoveries. Smith's takedown total ranks fifth in club record books. Smith was inducted into the New Saints Hall of Fame in 2016.
Just as important though to the driving force and outstanding player that Smith was on the field, several important charitable causes were just as big winners on behalf of his generosity as the Saints were of his gameday efforts. Smith and his wife formed the "Where There's a Will There's a Way" foundation to mentor, assist and provide educational support to at-risk children throughout Louisiana and in his hometown of Utica, N.Y., where he went to high school and was raised as a youth after being originally born in New York City. Kingsley House and Bridge House/Grace House were two charities that were a large part of their focus. Starting in 2012, Smith and his wife hosted the "Smith Family Christmas" event for families selected by Kingsley House, that provides nationally accredited and state certified programs to infants, youths, adults, parents, senior citizens and mentally fragile adults throughout Southeastern Louisiana. The couple provided over 60 families annually with a holiday meal and Christmas gifts from Santa Claus. Also starting in 2011, the Smiths and their foundation were a sponsor of an annual celebrity waiter event to benefit Bridge House and Grace House, whose mission is provide treatment to men and women who have become dependent on drugs and alcohol to help lead them to live sober and productive lives. In addition to his foundation's financial support, Smith enlisted several of his teammates to serve as celebrity waiters for the event, even after his playing career had come to an end. In his hometown of Utica, Smith sponsored an annual "Evening With All-Stars" dinner, honoring the region's high school football stars, an event for which he would also serve as a guest speaker annually.