The people of New Orleans gathered Friday at the Saints' training facility in Metairie, La., to mourn former player Will Smith, who was shot and killed in New Orleans last Saturday. The family will reportedly hold a private funeral for Smith Saturday.
lockers and stage for Will Smith's visitation. Starts at 2 pm pic.twitter.com/cRxicH7zLQ— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) April 15, 2016
The Saints turned an indoor practice field into a memorial hall devoted to Smith's memory. His casket, adorned with a bouquet of flowers, was placed on a stage at the 50-yard line. Enlarged photos of Smith taken during his career with the Saints hung behind the casket while a video featuring highlights of Smith's career played on screens at the sides of the stage.
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Will Smith memorial pic.twitter.com/nre76IVWpX— Nick Underhill (@nick_underhill) April 15, 2016
Will smith name highlighted pic.twitter.com/duuUVDWJ0R— dOMe_inate (@WhoDatWarriors) April 15, 2016
A number of former and current Saints players were in attendance, as were head coach Sean Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis. Smith's wife Racquel, who was injured in the shooting, was able to attend in a wheelchair.
Jahri Evans in a Will Smith jersey pic.twitter.com/clFwrSDamd— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) April 15, 2016
Sproles, Jenkins, Grant, Colston, Hartley, Ellis, Moore, Harper, Greer, Dunbar, Gleason, Torrence, Young, J. Evans, Ayodele among many here— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) April 15, 2016
Fred Thomas, Nesbit, D McAllister, McCray, Bushrod, Stallworth, Talman Gardner, Tim Duckworth and more are coming in— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) April 15, 2016
Pierre Thomas, Reggie Bush and DeMario Pressley also here— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) April 15, 2016
Travaris Cadet, Michael Lewis and Aaron Brooks are here— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) April 15, 2016
Steve Gleason, a former Saints player who was diagnosed with ALS in January 2011, also made it to the memorial. Gleason and Smith were teammates and friends long after Gleason retired, and Gleason paid tribute to Smith on Twitter last weekend and earlier on Friday.
Fans in attendance were able to sign a guestbook, and messages left in a virtual guestbook ran on a screen during the memorial. There was no formal service on the schedule. Instead fans were allowed to walk through the facility to view the casket as well as several lockers adorned with memorabilia from Smith's football career.
Hello from Will Smith memorial pic.twitter.com/0w7w1SuAwh— dOMe_inate (@WhoDatWarriors) April 15, 2016
A second line -- a traditional New Orleans brass band parade -- was scheduled in memory of Smith for Friday night. Still, a fan with a trumpet gave the memorial at the Saints' facility some local flavor by playing "When The Saints Go Marching In" over Smith's casket at the beginning of the visitation hours.