Football great Will Smith and mental illness in America


By Glenn Mollette

Contributing Columnist

The alleged shooting death of New Orleans football great Will Smith by Cardell Hayes is tragic. At this point we have not heard all that happened with a car accident that turned into Hayes shooting Smith six times and also Smith’s wife.

You probably know by now that Hayes sued the city of New Orleans in 2005 after police killed his dad Anthony Hayes. His dad was shot nine times by NOPD officers after he reportedly lunged at one of the officers with a knife. Hayes and his sister later sued the city of New Orleans and settled for an undisclosed sum.

Ironically Smith was having dinner with one of the NOPD officers earlier on this same evening, Billy Ceravolo, who was involved in shooting Hayes’ father in 2005.

Initial reports believe the most recent shooting had nothing to do with the 2005 shooting and that this was an accident that turned into road rage.

Was Hayes bitter, resentful with caustic feelings toward the NOPD? Why would we think otherwise? Of course he was. Regardless if his father lunged at one of the police with a knife they still killed his daddy. Hayes believed that the officers could have better handled his dad on that day with a stun gun but that the altercation did not have to end up lethal, according to the lawsuit that was filed and settled.

While a dollar figure is unknown to the settlement it is reportedly believed that Hayes and his sister received a significant amount. This doesn’t take the place of a daddy nor does it resolve mental issues.

Was Cardell Hayes a loose canon driving the streets of New Orleans with a gun? This could have been anybody who had ruffled his feathers, got in his way or had a disagreement with him. On this day, very sadly, it was football great Will Smith.

Too many people are behind the wheels of cars with mental illness. Too many of them are carrying guns. They have had life altering events. They carry bitterness, a lot of anger and a finger on the trigger. The right or wrong scenario ends up lethal. This is not an excuse for mentally unbalanced people but reality. A lot of people need counseling today. After such an event that Hayes went through with his dad he had severe problems. None of us know when we step out of a car to talk to someone after a car accident what we will encounter. We don’t expect to be shot and neither did Smith.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness states the following information: Over 61 million Americans experience mental illness in a given year. About one in 17 live with a serious illness such as schizophrenia, major depression or bipolar disorder. Serious metal illness costs Americans over 193 billion dollars in lost wages every year. More than 90 percent of those who die by suicide had one or more mental disorders. Approximately 26 percent of homeless adults staying in shelters live with serious mental illness and an estimated 46 percent lives with severe mental illness and or substance use disorders. The statistics are startling. Check out NAMI on the web for more information.

A lot of people are battling mental issues in our country. People aren’t shot in movie theatres, schools, churches, and at traffic accidents because we are such a mentally well nation. We have a lot of problems in this country. Mental illness cannot be put on the back burner.

Glenn Mollette

Contributing columnist

Glenn Mollette is an American syndicated columnist and author. He is the author of 11 books. Like his Facebook page at

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