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Veteran football player Emmitt Smith and author and motivational speaker Patricia Smith are separating. In a statement posted to Instagram on Saturday, the 51-year-old athlete made the announcement, which came as a surprise to many.

“We are publicly sharing that after much contemplation and prayer, we have decided to separate,” read the estranged couple’s joint statement. “We will continue to move forward with love and compassion for one another, as co-parents and friends.”

“We will work together in the best interests of our children, our family, community, and businesses,” the statement goes on. “As we take this journey towards the next chapter in our lives, we ask for privacy at this time.”

 

In April, the now-estranged couple celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary. Pat commemorated their special day with a lengthy Instagram post in which she doted on her life partner.

“It’s our 20h Wedding Anniversary!!!” she exclaimed. “First of all, I give all the glory to God for today!!! I’ll be honest, I’ve had so many thoughts and emotions today…I decided to just let it flow!!! Thank You Baby for your willingness to do the joint work needed in marriage!! 20 years doesn’t come without a lot of work, prayer, and a fight to stay together!!”

She went on:

“Marriage is a very personal experience and for each couple it’s different!!! I have learned to keep my focus on our marriage and celebrate the beauty, uniqueness, and challenges of ours!!”

 

While it’s unclear what happened since April, fans have been flooding comments under their posts encouraging the couple to work through their differences.

Emmitt and Pat tied the knot in April of 2000. They share three children. Prior to marrying the Dallas Cowboys star, Pat was married to comedian Martin Lawrence between 1995 and 1997.

Whatever Pat and Emmitt decide to do at the end of this separation, we wish them happiness in their next chapter.

 

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