The sports world lost a legend over the weekend.
According to Fox News, Steve Smith, a stand-out NFL fullback who played for the then-Los Angeles Raiders and Seattle Seahawks, succumbed to a two-decade-long battle with ALS over the weekend, passing away at home at 57.
The former athlete was first diagnosed with ALS — also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease — in 2002. The nervous system disease eventually weakens major muscle groups and inhibits basic functions of the body.
Smith made the decision to live with the help of various machines to keep his body alive, holding out hope that by this time, there would be a cure.
Given his storied career with the Raiders, which is where a vast majority of his highlight reels originated, it’s no surprise that the team quickly released a statement on the passing of their former hero.
“The Raiders Family is deeply saddened by the passing of Steve Smith, who valiantly battled Lou Gehrig’s Disease for two decades. Steve and his wife Chie are an inspiration, smiling every day while always working for a cure for ALS,” the Raiders organization said.
It added: “The prayers of the entire Raider Nation are with Chie, their children Dante and Jazmin, and their grandson Little Steve.”
“He’s the toughest fullback I’ve ever seen.”
Rest in peace to the great Steve Smith 🖤 pic.twitter.com/giM4IjGCTK
— Las Vegas Raiders (@Raiders) November 21, 2021
Aside from being hailed as one of the toughest fullbacks to ever play the game, Smith built an impressive resume during his time on the field, having blocked for and ran with some of the biggest names in Raiders history, including Bo Jackson, and Marcus Allen.
By the time he wrapped up his NFL career, Smith amassed 1,627 rushing yards and nine rushing touchdowns during his time on the field, stats that any fullback would be lucky to have. He also managed to add 13 receiving touchdowns and 131 catches for a total of 1,250 receiving yards.
He spent his last year in the league with the Seattle Seahawks, but in 1995, suffered a career-ending back injury.
Over the weekend, Smith was praised by a long list of NFL legends and their families on social media, making clear that during his time on the gridiron, Smith easily gained the respect of everyone he played with and those who played against him.