FORMER Miss Universe Chelsi Smith, who won the crown representing America as Miss USA, has died, TMZ reports.
Chelsi Smith was the first woman of African-American descent to win the Miss Texas USA competition, and went on to become Miss USA and Miss Universe that same year.
Her friend and Miss New York USA 1995 who was runner up to Smith in the 1995 Miss USA Pageant, Shanna Moakler, took to Instagram to write a touching tribute to her friend.
Alluding to Smith’s reported battle with liver cancer, Moakler wrote, “If it wasn’t for her, her beauty and her energy, her incredible destiny, I wouldn’t even be where I am today. Even when she was sick she was positive and radiant and never stopped laughing.”
The beauty queen celebrated her friend, writing, “Visit me in my dreams queen I will be missing you and all your witty banter. Love love love you. Godspeed.”
Friends, fans, and other beauty queens celebrated Smith’s life with posts on social media.
May love and light go with you on your next journey @Chelsi_Smith . You took the world by storm as Miss Universe 1995 & you continued to open your heart to so many. R.I.P. my beautiful friend. You will truly be missed!😔 #MissUniverse #MissUSA #misstexasusa pic.twitter.com/QDxOnDZYs4
— Sharron Melton (@sharronmelton01) September 8, 2018
Heartbreaking to learn former Miss Texas USA, Miss USA and Miss Universe 1995, Chelsi Smith has passed away. She inspired my journey to #MissUSA and was a wonderful woman and friend. #MissTXUSA #MissUSA pic.twitter.com/jewIFrcdK8
— Lina de Florias (@linadeflorias) September 8, 2018
The pageant community mourns the loss of a true queen today. Chelsi Smith's impact started in the great state of Texas as Miss Texas USA in 1995 where she rose to Miss USA and finally Miss Universe 1995. Read about her legacy here: https://t.co/t3ZOIzkkFI pic.twitter.com/XRPoPZoQl4
— Pageant Planet (@pageantplanet) September 9, 2018
Fans flocked to Chelsi Smith’s Instagram page and shared thoughts on her last post, which was in April of this year.
“I know Heaven is a beautiful place because they’ve got you,” one fan wrote.
Chelsi Smith competed in her first pageant -- Miss Texas in 1994 -- and became the first biracial woman to win the pageant.
In 1995, Smith traveled to Namibia to compete in the Miss Universe pageant where she won the crown, becoming the first woman from the United States to do so in 15 years.
The model also starred in commercials for Hawaiian Tropic, Jantzen, Pontiac, and Venus Swimwear, according to her agency.