Just hours before taking the field with the rest of his teammates, Cleveland Browns defenseman Chris Smith took to Instagram.

He shared a photo of his late girlfriend, 26-year-old Petara Cordero, wearing a Browns jersey while sitting on the back of a bleacher.

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My W H Y … #staystrong❤️

A post shared by C. Smith (@98chrissmith) on

He captioned the photo, “My why,” along with the hashtag, “Stay Strong.”

As Dearly previously reported, Cordero unexpectedly passed away during the early morning hours of September 11. She and Smith were driving down I-90 West in Cleveland when the tire of Smith’s Lamborghini blew out, causing the vehicle to lose control and sending the young couple into a median.

Following the initial accident, both Cordero and Smith escaped the car with no injuries. Sadly, upon exiting the vehicle, Cordero was struck by an oncoming Mazda, driven by a 47-year-old woman who admitted to drinking before the accident.

Cordero was pronounced dead after being rushed to a nearby hospital. Smith said on Instagram:

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. My wifey my best friend and the mother of my beautiful daughter. Love you baby.

Following her passing, the entire Browns organization, including his teammates, gave the defenseman their unwavering support. They offered him any amount of grieving time he may need to take.

However, as it was revealed by ESPN just hours before the Browns kicked off against the New York Jets, Smith said that he would be taking the field with the rest of his teammates. He said it’s exactly what Cordero would have wanted him to do.

Smith said in a statement to ESPN before the start of the game:

“I am going to play tonight because it is something, she would want me to do. She would want me to keep doing what I love and stay strong. I play for her tonight. She is my why.”

Just weeks before Cordero’s passing, she and Smith welcomed their first child together.

They named their daughter Haven Harris Smith. Cordero was just 26 years old when she died.

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Chris Smith Chooses to Play in First Game Since His Girlfriend’s Petara Cordeo’s Passing

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