Warner Smith, the former Arizona Wildcats offensive lineman who was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) three years ago, has died. He was 44.
UA greats Lamont Lovett and Chuck Cecil both tweeted about Smith's passing shortly after 1 a.m. Wednesday morning. The news came in the hours following the firing of UA coach Rich Rodriguez, who had been at the helm of the program since 2011.
It is with great pain I mourn the loss of a great friend and a incredible Wildcat brother Warner Smith. Rest in Heaven my friend. We ❤️you.— lamont lovett (@llovett34) January 3, 2018
Very sad to learn about the passing of former @ArizonaFBall player Warner Smith. Warner was a warrior against ALS and I would ask that all of the Wildcat family send love and prayers to his wife Becky and daughter Carlee.🙏🏼👊🏼 #perspective #beardown https://t.co/kzOycnPcQ6— Chuck Cecil (@chuckcecil26) January 3, 2018
Smith, a San Manuel native and the state's 1990 Gatorade State Player of the Year, went on to be a first-team All-Pac-10 guard on Arizona's "Desert Swarm" team of 1994.
Smith was visited by his former UA coach, Dick Tomey, in the weeks leading up his death. Smith leaves behind a wife, Becky, a 6-year-old daughter, Carlee, and other family members.
The UA athletic department issued a statement Wednesday that read: “We are deeply saddened to learn of the loss of Warner Smith, who bravely fought a horrible disease in recent years. Warner epitomized the Bear Down spirit not only in his time with us as a student-athlete, but in every aspect of his life. We’ll always remember his outstanding play on the field, but most importantly we’ll never forget who he was as a man. We ask all in the Arizona football family to keep Warner’s friends, teammates and family in their thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.”