It was a challenging week for DeVonta Smith, who played Sunday’s game with a heavy heart.
Smith played through pain in the Eagles’ 27-24 loss to the Chargers, catching five passes for 116 yards and a touchdown.
On Tuesday, his close friend, Henry Ruggs III, was involved in a fiery car crash that left a 23-year-old woman dead. Ruggs was driving as fast as 156 mph and had a blood alcohol level of more than twice the legal limit in Nevada.
“First off, my heart breaks for everybody that was involved,” Smith said, “and the family of the young lady that lost her life.”
Ruggs, who was Smith’s teammate and roommate at Alabama, was released by the Raiders and faces a maximum of over 40 years in prison for charges stemming from the incident.
This was a tragedy all around.
Tina Tintor needlessly and infuriatingly lost her life and Ruggs derailed his with one selfish act.
Smith, 22, didn’t miss any practice time this week and head coach Nick Sirianni praised him for his professionalism in what had to be an excruciating personal moment.
“I mean, it was rough at the beginning (of the week),” Smith said. “Just coming in every day, being with the guys, they kind of gathered with me and helped me out a lot. At the beginning of the week it was tough, but eventually the guys helped me get through it.”
During the week, Smith was able to speak with Ruggs, who was released on $150,000 bail.
“He’s in good spirits,” Smith said. “I’m just glad he’s gotten himself together and he’s not just down on himself.
Smith said the incident has given him “a bigger purpose” of playing for Ruggs.
While it was a tough week for Smith, getting support from his teammates definitely helped.
And getting on the football field diverted his attention.
“Once I got on the field, it kind of went away,” Smith said. “I know I had a task at hand. I had to focus on football. Once I got on the field, it kind of got away.”
While he isn’t as close to Ruggs as Smith, Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts was also teammates with Ruggs at Alabama.
“Obviously, I have a lot of love for DeVonta,” Hurts said. “I love him like a brother. I have a lot of love for Henry Ruggs as well. I love him like a brother. My Bama brother. It’s tough for all of us to experience what we experienced this week, how tragic of a situation it was. But we are all warriors and we all see it through. DeVonta made some big-time plays today. He will continue to do that for us.”
Smith on Sunday had his second career 100+ yard game. He’s now on pace to break the Eagles’ rookie receiving record with a 1,000-yard season.
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