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Iowa star’s grandfather killed in vehicle-pedestrian incident before Music City Bowl

The grandfather of Iowa star linebacker Jack Campbell tragically died in a car crash in Nashville on Friday after traveling to Tennessee to see his grandson play in what will likely be his final college football game. 

William Smith Jr., 76, was pronounced dead at Vanderbilt University Medical Center after being involved in a single vehicle-pedestrian incident late Friday evening, the university said in a statement on Saturday.

Iowa Hawkeyes’ middle linebacker Jack Campbell during the TransPerfect Music City Bowl game against the Kentucky Wildcats on Dec. 31, 2022, at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee.
(Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

“Our hearts are with Jack and his entire family as they grieve the tragic death of their grandfather and father, William Smith, Jr.,” coach Kirk Ferentz said in a statement provided by the school. 

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“We know Mr. Smith was a strong influence on his grandson and a faithful Hawkeye football supporter. All of us – players, coaches and staff members – will keep the Campbell family in our thoughts and prayers during this profoundly difficult time.”

According to The Tennessean, Smith was hit by a van after stepping into the road just after 10 p.m. Police told the outlet that Smith did not hear a family member’s warning not to step into the road. 

Iowa's Jack Campbell watches Kentucky quarterback Destin Wade prior to a snap during the TransPerfect Music City Bowl, Dec. 31, 2022, at Nissan Stadium in Nashville.

Iowa’s Jack Campbell watches Kentucky quarterback Destin Wade prior to a snap during the TransPerfect Music City Bowl, Dec. 31, 2022, at Nissan Stadium in Nashville.
(Matthew Maxey/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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Campbell had a dominant performance in Saturday’s shutout of Kentucky in the Music City Bowl, leading the Hawkeyes with 10 tackles. He also registered a sack and two tackles for loss.

According to the university, his parents did not tell him about his grandfather’s passing so he could “have one last time to play with his Iowa Hawkeye teammates.”

Iowa's Jack Campbell warms up before the Nebraska Cornhuskers game on Nov. 25, 2022, at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City.

Iowa’s Jack Campbell warms up before the Nebraska Cornhuskers game on Nov. 25, 2022, at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City.
(Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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“Jack’s parents told him about his grandfather’s passing after the Music City Bowl game ended,” the news releases read. “His parents made the decision to wait to share this devastating news so that Jack would have one last time to play with his Iowa Hawkeye teammates.”


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