Coaches Say Will Smith’s Alleged Killer Was a ‘Good Person’ and a ‘Leader’

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Cardell Hayes, the man accused of shooting to death former NFL star Will Smith Saturday night, was a non-violent leader on two football teams for which he played spanning the past 15 years, two men who coached the alleged shooter told USA TODAY Sports.

“A good football player, a good person,’’ said Fred Washington, who said he coached Hayes, 28, the past year and a half on a developmental football team in New Orleans called the Crescent City Kings. “Never demonstrated a temper, not in my presence.’’

Lee Green, who coached Hayes from 2001 to 2004 at Warren Easton High School, shared similar impressions of Hayes, a defensive tackle who had attracted interest from Division I college programs but did not play college football.

“He was definitely a leader on the team,’’ Green said. “He was at practice everyday. He was in weight training all during the summertime and he was at our tutoring program. He was a real good high school student.’’

Washington said he has heard good things about Smith, who played defensive end for the Saints between 2004 and 2013 and was shot to death after Smith’s Mercedes was rear-ended by a Hummer driven by Hayes, according to New Orleans police.

Hayes allegedly argued with the former Saints star prior to the shooting. Smith’s wife, Racquel, also was shot twice in the right leg, police said, and was treated at University Medical Center.

Hayes has been charged with second-degree murder, and bond has been set at $1 million.

“Oh, man, I’m so confused about the entire situation,’’ Washington said. “Will Smith, he’s been such a pillar in the community of New Orleans, doing great things outside of football. And what I’ve learned about Cardell being a humble man.”

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SOURCE: USA Today, Josh Peter