By David Dwork

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The tragic death of former New Orleans Saints defensive end Will Smith has affected people across the country, both fans and professional athletes alike.

Smith was beloved by Saints fans, helping the franchise to its first Super Bowl championship in 2009 which was won right here in South Florida.

Last week Smith, 34, was gunned down in an apparent road rage situation on Saturday night after he got into a car accident with 28-year-old Cardell Hayes.

According to police, Hayes rear-ended Smith’s car which led to the confrontation between the two, but authorities are not saying whether Hayes is claiming self-defense, only that the investigation is ongoing.

Bond was set at $1 million for Hayes on Sunday evening.

Smith last played in the NFL in 2012 but has been busy trying to better his life in the time since, and he was back in the place he won the Super Bowl to do it.

Smith was attending the University of Miami, participating in the school’s inaugural Miami Executive MBA for Artists and Athletes class.

Gene Anderson, the Dean of the University of Miami School of Business Administration, released a statement following the news of Smith’s death.

“It is with great sadness that I write to inform you of the untimely and tragic death of a special member of our community. Will Smith was part of our inaugural Miami Executive MBA for Artists and Athletes class. He was expected to graduate this coming July. He was a wonderful student, easy going, well-liked, and respected by all of his classmates, faculty, and staff. He was 34 years old.

“Please join me in offering our love, sympathy, and strength to Will’s family, particularly his wife Racquel, whom we wish a complete and speedy recovery, and their three children in this hour of unfathomable loss.”

The school will plan memorial service during the program’s next residency which will take place in June.