Cleveland Browns defensive end Chris Smith dedicated a touching message to honor his girlfriend Petara Cordero, who died in a car accident on Wednesday, weeks after the couple welcomed daughter Haven Harris Smith.
Alongside a slideshow of images highlighting some of the couple’s happy memories together, Smith shared that while he might not understand why Cordero was taken from him, he understands she’s “in a better place now.”
“God has a plan for all of us we can’t understand but she is in a better place now and she can rest easy,” he wrote, calling Cordero “my wifey, my best friend and the mother of my beautiful daughter.”
“Love you baby,” he added, including the hashtag “stay strong,” which appeared to be a reference to a tattoo Cordero had inked on her chest.
Smith also revealed on his Instagram Story that he had gotten the same words inked on himself along with several of their loved ones.
Cordero was a passenger in Smith’s Lamborghini when a tire blew out, causing their vehicle to swerve and hit a median on I-90 West in Cleveland, according to a statement from the Cleveland Browns.
Cordero got out of the car “without significant injuries,” only to be struck by an oncoming vehicle. After being taken to Cleveland Clinic Fairview Hospital, she was pronounced dead, local station News 5 reported.
The driver of the oncoming vehicle admitted to drinking before the accident, and a toxicology report is pending, Cleveland police told CNN. Smith was not impaired, both the Browns’ statement and CNN reported.
Freddie Kitchens, the head coach of the Browns, has said that the team is “going to support Chris,” who will be excused from team activities to grieve “as he sees best fit.”
“This goes beyond football. This was a 26-year-old young lady at the highlight of her life. Not to get too personal about it … Chris is a good dude. She was a good girl. We just want to support him in any way we can,” Kitchens said at a press conference on Thursday.
Smith and Cordero had announced their daughter Haven’s arrival on social media less than a month before her sudden and tragic death.
On Aug. 27, Smith shared photos of the new mom and baby, writing in the caption, “I’m so thankful to have another beautiful gift in this world my daughter Haven Harris Smith. You are such a blessing to me and your mother!! Love you Petara and Baby Haven❤️❤️❤️.”
Cordero also shared photos of their baby on Instagram, writing, “This little girl has filled my heart with so much joy and love !! I’m so thankful that God chose me to be her mommy!! So excited for this life journey with you!!! Haven Harris Smith.”