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Emmitt Smith & His Beauty Queen Wife Separated After 20 Years

Former Dallas Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith is one of the most renowned icons in franchise history, having spent 13 seasons of his 15-year NFL career in the backfield for America's Team.

His career certainly didn't lack longevity, and the same could be said for his love life. Smith and his wife Pat had been married 20 years until announcing their plans to separate.

So, who is Patricia Southall and what happened between them?

Emmitt Smith's Wife Patricia Southall

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Emmitt Smith and his wife Patricia Southall got married in 2000, towards the tail end of Smith's career as a running back. They celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary in April of 2020, yet just six months later, the couple announced they had plans to call it quits after 20 years of marriage.

Pat Smith is a former beauty queen who was once crowned Miss Virginia USA and was runner-up in her quest to become Miss USA in 1994. She was born with a twin sister named Pam Southall to Mildred Southall and Henry Southall in Chesapeake, Virginia, and attended James Madison University before her beauty queen fame.

She is the ex-wife of Hollywood superstar actor and comedian Martin Lawrence, as she was married to him from 1995-97 and had one child prior to her marriage to the NFL Hall of Famer. The two had a daughter together named Jasmine Page Lawrence.

According to the Dallas Morning News, Emmitt and the former Miss Virginia first met at a music festival in Aruba.

According to IMDB, she's also an actress and producer, known for "Halfway Point" (2005), "Beverly Hills, 90210" (1990) and "The Wayans Bros." (1995).

Emmitt & Pat Smith's Kids

The couple are parents to three childrenincluding current Stanford football player E.J. Smith, Emmitt Smith IV and Skylar Smith. They additionally co-parent two children from previous relationships, including a daughter named Rheagen Smith from Smith's past relationship with ex-girlfriend Hope Wilson.

The couple were well known in the Dallas area and made significant donations and gave back to the community via the Pat & Emmitt Smith Charities. Pat is also the founder and spokesperson for a non-profit organization called Treasure You.

Despite being married 20 years, their relationship wasn't without controversy. Pat admitted in 2016 to People that she was skeptical of Emmitt's relationship with "Dancing With the Stars" partner Cheryl Burke, though the two insisted they were just close friends. Pat admitted it was during her somewhat troubled mindset that she released her book "Second Chances."

Emmitt & Pat Separated In 2020

The celebs announced their decision to split in a joint statement via social media, posting to the 52-year-old's Instagram to inform fans of their change in relationship status while requesting privacy during the separation process during the coronavirus pandemic.

"We are publicly sharing that after much contemplation and prayer, we have decided to separate. 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. As we take this journey toward the next chapter in our lives, we ask for privacy at this time," the statement read.

The two appear to still be on good terms, as Emmitt posted a photo of Pat and the kids on his Instagram in 2021.

Emmitt Smith NFL Career

AP Photo/Linda Kaye

After a dominant college football career at the University of Florida, Emmitt Smith became the Dallas Cowboys' first-round pick in the 1990 NFL Draft and went on to become the most illustrious running back in franchise history.

He won the Super Bowl in three years with the franchise: 1992, 1993 and 1995. When his career concluded after a brief two-year stint with the Arizona Cardinals, Smith had recorded a remarkable 164 rushing touchdowns and 18,355 rushing yards, both NFL career records. The Escambia High School product won one MVP in his football career and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010.

Emmitt Smith will always be the NFL rushing king, but it appears he won't have his queen by his side forever.

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This post was originally published on February 16, 2021.

MORE: Emmitt Smith's Net Worth: How NFL's Rushing King Racked Up Millions