KENNER - Racquel Smith spoke publicly Friday for the first time since her husband, former Saints defensive end Will Smith, was shot and killed. In a speech accompanying his induction into the New Orleans Saints Hall of Fame, she called the incident "unimaginable."
Racquel Smith was also shot twice in the legs on April 9, when her husband was killed after a traffic incident that police said led to a heated argument. The man accused of shooting and killing Smith, Cardell Hayes, is set to stand trial later this year.
"I crumbled to my knees, literally. I knew it was only by God's grace that I survived that night," said Racquel Smith. "I had to learn to walk again. I had severe nerve damage in my left leg and broke my femur bone. There were days when I couldn't get out of bed nor did I want to get out of bed. But I knew I had to be strong for my three beautiful kids. And that's when I felt Will the most."
"His strength, his determination, his commitment to being the best. Failure was never an option for my husband.... Through my darkest days of my life, Will gave me so much. He instilled so much in me and he showed me how to be strong. And he always told me, 'Rocky, you can do this.'"
Racquel Smith was joined at the ceremony by the couple's three children.
Also inducted into the Hall of Fame on Friday were former Saints fullback/scout and WWL Radio Saints color analyst Hokie Gajan, who died of cancer last year. He received the Joe Gemelli Fleur De Lis Award.