Browns' Chris Smith plays week after girlfriend's death

Petara Cordero killed in car accident

By Allen Kim, CNN
Ron Schwane/AP via CNN

Cleveland Browns defensive end Chris Smith

CLEVELAND, Ohio - Cleveland Browns defensive end Chris Smith played on Monday Night Football against the New York Jets less than a week after his girlfriend died in a car accident.

The Browns blew out the Jets 23-3, and Smith had one pass defended.

Smith and Petara Cordero were driving Wednesday on I-90 West in Cleveland when a tire on his Lamborghini blew out. Cordero got out of the car and was standing on the shoulder when she was struck by a car.

Cordero was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead.

According to police, the driver of the other car admitted to drinking, but a toxicology report has not been completed.

Smith was not impaired, and the incident is under investigation, police said.

"I am going to play tonight because it is something she would want me to do," Smith said before the game Monday. "She would want me to keep doing what I love and stay strong. I play for her tonight. She is my why."

Cordero gave birth last month to their daughter, Haven Harris Smith.

"When it first happened, I was ready to give up," Smith told a group of reporters after the game. "But I had to just think about my daughter and stuff and she would want me to play.

"I got to play for her. She's my why. My daughter's my why. My other two kids are, too. But for my youngest, I've got to be mom and dad. God has stuff happen for a reason. Sometimes we don't understand God's plan, but she's in a better place now. The rest of my life, I'm going to fight for her."

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