Former Miss Universe dies aged 45

Chelsi Smith received the prestigious title in 1995

Former Miss USA and Miss Universe, Chelsi Smith, has died at the age of 45 following a lengthy battle with liver cancer. Chelsi, from Texas, was given the titles of Miss Texas, Miss USA and Miss Universe in 1995, and was the only woman from Texas to achieve the accolade, as well as being the first American woman in 15 years to take away the top title. The beauty pageant passed away on Saturday, and her family released a statement following the sad news, where they paid tribute to the model. It said: "We are heartbroken to share the news that Chelsi Smith has passed away following a protracted illness. Chelsi was our loving daughter, niece, and friend. We will miss her infectious laughter, joie de vivre, and free spirit. She left an indelible mark on all those who knew her."

Chelsi Smith passed away after a year-long battle with liver cancer

Chelsi was diagnosed with cancer in 2017, and had been living with her mum before she died. She proved her determination throughout her life, having competed the following year for the title of Miss Texas USA where she was a semi-finalist. While talking to Pageant Interviews about her experience, Chelsi said that she wanted to give it one last try. She said: "I actually wasn’t going to come back. I felt I had fun competing and was ready to move on to something else; but, I decided to go back as a contestant-at-large and give it one last shot."

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Chelsi picked up three crowns in 1995, including Miss Universe

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Following the news of her passing, Chelsi's friends, including reality TV star Shanna Moakler – who competed in the Miss USA contest with her – paid a heartfelt tribute on social media. Shanna said: "Her light was so big and so bright, she changed my life. 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."

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