PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — Dallas Cowboys legend Emmitt Smith announced Tuesday on social media that his father, Emmitt Smith Jr., has died.
“The man who inspired me to play the game of football has transitioned to be the lord,” Smith said on Twitter. “I will miss your timely advice but will hold on to the things you and my first love taught me, my brothers and sisters.”
Former NFL player Spencer Tillman offered words of support on Twitter: “Prayers up my brother. Looking like your daddy! ‘Nevertheless, the foundation of God stands sure, Having this seal, the Lord knows those who are his own.’ He’s in good hands.”
Many others posted messages saying “so sorry for your loss” and offering prayers for the family.
Emmitt Smith Jr., who grew up in Pensacola, Florida, was known as a “tough runner” while playing on a dirt-and-rock football field in his hometown, according to the Dallas Morning News.
“With Emmitt, it’s all in the genes,” Escambia County Schools official Horace Jones told the Dallas Morning News in 2010. “With his quickness and elusiveness, Puddin’ could have been just as proficient as Emmitt, I’ve always believed. I’ve always wondered what would have happened if things had been different.”
The former Dallas Cowboys running back lost his mother in 2016 and took to Instagram to describe his “first love.”
“I’ve lost many things in my life but nothing like the loss of my first Love, my mother,” Smith said in his 2016 Instagram post. “My heart is truly aching at this moment because I will never ever hear her voice again. I am so eternally grateful because she left me with so much wisdom that I now share with my kids. As we go through this period of adjustment as a family, I can hear her voice saying get up and get back in the game. Mom, you will be forever missed and always treasured. I love you and thanks for all you have given.”
Smith, who is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, played for Dallas from 1990-2002, then spent two seasons with the Arizona Cardinals before his 2015 retirement. He signed a one-day contract with Dallas for $1 so he could officially retire as a Cowboy.