After he was shot in April at an intersection, Will Smith's death rocked Saints' fans and players alike. The former defensive end and 2016 Saints' Hall of Fame inductee was known for his charitable work around New Orleans, not unlike the rest of the team's contributions to the community. To honor his life, the Saints continued his "Santa With the Smiths" tradition, a Christmas tradition in which Smith would host a dinner with members of the Kingsley House.
At the dinner, Smith would give each of the families invited a holiday meal and a visit with Santa. The idea is not to hand out gifts, but rather to make every family invited feel loved and cared for.
Stars Current and Past
The tradition was attended by Cam Jordan (one of the few remaining players on the roster from Smith's time), James Laurainitis and retired Saints' legend Deuce McAllister, who currently calls games for the Saints on WWL.
The event was funded by Fan Angel, and for every $500 raised a family can be invited. Over $10,000 was raised for Santa With the Smiths. The trial of Smith's shooter Cardell Hayes is ongoing and has already seen players such as Drew Brees appear, so the players could think of no better way to honor their teammate.
Jordan recognized the event as a "no-brainer" to attend, and he called Smith a mentor of his. Given how successful Jordan has become for New Orleans, it's safe to say he did a good job.
Smith is and will continue to be recognized in the annals of Saints' history. This event is just one way that the Saints have continued on his legacy.