William Smith Jr., grandfather of Iowa linebacker Jack Campbell, dies in car accident in Nashville

Smith was struck by a passenger van on West End Avenue Friday evening. He was pronounced dead at age 76 at Vanderbilt Medical Center.

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Jerod Ringwald

Iowa linebacker Jack Campbell walks off the field after the 2022 TransPerfect Music City Bowl between Iowa and Kentucky at Nissan Stadium in Nashville. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wildcats, 21-0.

Austin Hanson, Pregame Editor


NASHVILLE, Tenn. — William Smith Jr., Iowa linebacker Jack Campbell’s grandfather, died at age 76 on Friday evening in a pedestrian-vehicle crash in Nashville.

Law enforcement’s preliminary investigation revealed that a Holiday Inn Ford Transit passenger van was traveling on West End Avenue in Nashville when it struck Smith, who had begun to walk across the street from north to south.

Smith was walking with his family members, one of which attempted to alert him of the traffic. Smith is believed to have not heard his family’s warning, a document presented to media members stated.

Mid-Town Hills Precinct officers responded to the accident at 10:18 p.m. Smith was transported to Vanderbilt Medical Center where he pronounced dead. Smith was in Nashville to watch Campbell play in the Hawkeyes’ bowl game against the Kentucky Wildcats on Saturday.

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

Iowa Athletics noted in a release that Campbell’s parents waited until after the Music City Bowl to inform him of his grandfather’s death. Campbell’s parents made that decision so he could enjoy his last game as a Hawkeye.

Campbell contributed heavily in Iowa’s 21-0 win over Kentucky at Nissan Stadium Saturday, recording 10 tackles and one sack.

Smith lived in Waterloo, Iowa, and was the father of Jack’s stepmother, Jen Campbell.

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