On Sunday, Arizona Cardinals All-Pro safety and New Orleans native Tyrann Mathieu delivered a series of passionate tweets related to the shooting death of former NFL star Will Smith in New Orleans' Lower Garden District on Saturday night.
Along with detailing the things he believes need to change in order to alter his hometown's culture of violence, Mathieu said he knows the suspect in the crime, 28-year-old Cardell Hayes, who was arrested and charged with second-degree murder Sunday morning.
I know that dude, he been a hating ass coward.... Never knew he'd grow up to be a killer tho.... May you get what you deserve coward
— Tyrann Mathieu (@Mathieu_Era) April 10, 2016
On Monday during an interview on The Rich Eisen Show, Mathieu confirmed his familiarity with Hayes, and he said he's been threatened by Hayes' family members after he posted the tweet Sunday.
On @RichEisenShow, New Orleans native @Mathieu_Era said relatives of the man who shot Will Smith have threatened himhttps://t.co/nlwyuDJQ4A
— Rich Eisen (@richeisen) April 11, 2016
"I know this guy personally, and it's not really for me to put his personal business on air, because when I came out yesterday and called him a coward, I received death threats from guys in New Orleans, from his relatives," Mathieu said.
"And I'm thinking to myself, 'Whoa, what do you guys want from me?' I'm only here to speak the truth. That's it."
Why my city wanna kill me now tho? Cause I speak the truth!!! https://t.co/KreYMLx9dG
— Tyrann Mathieu (@Mathieu_Era) April 11, 2016
The Honey Badger said he's simply trying to educate people about "the truth of a culture that's divided" in New Orleans, where he lived for 20 years.
"New Orleans is a place of great celebration. You can go there and have a great time. And then there's this other side of it to where if you walk too far up Canal Street, you'll get robbed," he said.
"If you go in certain areas, like the area Will Smith was in, something bad is going to happen to you. And I don't know how we control that. I don't know how we change that part of it."
Hayes, who was a high school football star in New Orleans, filed a lawsuit against the city of New Orleans in 2005. One of the defendants named in that lawsuit ate a meal with Smith hours before the shooting.
It's unclear whether that dinner played a role in Smith's death.
"I think it was one of those situations where he was really at the wrong place at the wrong time, and he bumped into the wrong person," Mathieu said.