Killer of NFL Star Will Smith Sentenced to 25 Years in Prison

Will Smith, Cardell Hayes

Killer of NFL Star Will Smith Sentenced to 25 Years in Prison

The Super Bowl champ's widow calls it a "nightmare for me and my family."

Published April 21, 2017

The gavel came down on the man who killed former NFL star Will Smith, but the late player's widow isn't satisfied.

On Thursday in New Orleans Parish Criminal District Court, Cardell Hayes was sentenced to 25 years in prison without the possibility of parole for manslaughter in the road-rage death of Smith last April. Judge Camille Buras sentenced Hayes to an additional 15 years for attempted manslaughter in shooting Smith's wife, Racquel Smith, in her legs.

However, Judge Buras allowing Hayes to serve the sentences concurrently after he had faced a maximum of 60 years behind bars is something that doesn't sit right with Smith's widow at all.

"My family and I are extremely disappointed with today's sentencing and the leniency showed by Judge Buras for the defendant," Smith said in a statement, as reported by local Fox 8 Live. "While we know nothing will ever bring Will back, we were hopeful that Judge Buras would have issued a stronger sentence to more justly reflect both the nature of the crimes and the tremendous loss and pain that my family has suffered as a result of Mr. Hayes's violent actions on the night of April 9, 2016."

She added that the 25-year sentence doesn't bring closure to her nor her family.

"This ordeal has been a nightmare for me and my family," she continued. "There are no winners here today. Today's sentencing does not bring back Will and leaves another child to grow up without a father. I pray for the other families of New Orleans that are dealing with the same tragedy that comes with the loss of life at the hands of senseless violence. Will loved this city and we must do better together to enact serious change so that Will's unnecessary murder is not in vain."

Haye's attorney sees it differently.

"If he was sentenced to 60 years, he probably could have died in jail," John Fuller said, as reported by ESPN. "At least with 25 he has the opportunity to be reunited with his family."

Hayes, 29, cried in court Thursday, telling Smith's children, "To not have a father around, I know what you're going through" and "I wish that night had never happened," as reported by CNN.

Last week, it was reported that Hayes is civily suing Smith's widow, claiming her late husband sparked their conflict because he was drunk. Smith was 34.

BET Sports News — Get the latest news and information about African-Americans in sports, including weekly recaps, celebrity news and photos of your favorite Black athletes.

Written by BET Staff

(Photo from left: Chris Graythen/Getty Images, Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

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