NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Two former New Orleans Saints players received huge posthumous honors Friday. The wives of the late Will Smith and Hokie Gajan delivered emotional remarks in accepting the accolades from the Saints Hall of Fame.
"This is actually bittersweet for my husband and I, but I am heartbroken that Will isn't here to accept this in person," said Racquel Smith, wife of Will Smith.
The former Saints standout was inducted into the Saints Hall of Fame.
"I can hear his voice and I so miss his voice. I see his smile and I feel him in this room," stated Mrs. Smith to the hundreds in attendance.
She and her three young children helped to unveil a painting in Smith's likeness.
"I remember when he first received the call and he told me about him being inducted into the Saints Hall of Fame, he was so excited, he was giddy," said Smith.
Will Smith was shot to death after a traffic accident in New Orleans resulted in heated words between Smith and the driver of the other vehicle.
"On April 9, my worst fear when my husband was taken from me," said his widow.
It was an incident that left Racquel Smith injured in more than one way. She, too, was shot and had to learn to walk again, she said.
"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," she said.
One not prone to public speaking, Smith mustered the strength required Friday afternoon on behalf of her late husband.
"You always told me to shine my light for the world to see. Well, here I am, I'm shining my light on your behalf, ooh this is hard…I know you are wearing that black and gold, number 91 in Heaven," she said.
Also during the ceremony, another posthumous honor was awarded. It was for former Saints player and radio color analyst Hokie Gajan, who lost his battle with cancer within days of Smith's death.
Gajan's wife also choked up while speaking.
"Thank y'all so much. He was the love of my life. I will always love him, thank you," said Mrs. Gajan to a standing ovation.
"If he was you're friend, you couldn't have a truer one. If he was your teammate, you couldn't have a tougher one, and if you were a member of the family he treasured so much you couldn't have a more loving husband, father, grandfather, uncle, brother or son," said FOX 8 Saints analyst Jim Henderson.
It was praise for the recently deceased Saints players, and their survivors found the strength to participate in the event.
"Wynter, Willie and Lisa - your dad loves you. He's always with you," said Smith.