Chelsi Smith, Miss Universe 1995 from Texas, dies at age 45

HOUSTON – Chelsi Smith, Miss Universe 1995, Miss USA and the first African-American to win Miss Texas USA, has died at the age of 45, her family confirmed.

Smith, a Deer Park native, lost her battle with cancer Saturday. Smith embarked a successful career in the entertainment business and signed with Music World, Columbia and Sony Records in 1999, according to family members. Smith snagged acting roles in film and television throughout her career.

After retiring her crown, she advocated for causes she believed in and enlightened many women around the world, family members said in a release.

Regarding Chelsi Smith's death, the Smith and Trimble families released the following statement:

“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. As much as Chelsi cherished her privacy, she always appreciated the expressions of love and good will from people around the world and from all walks of life. While we mourn the loss of this vivacious and kind-hearted woman, we also celebrate her remarkable life and hope that it serves as an example to young women around the world that their dreams are possible through a loving heart and an enlightened mind."

The family said a memorial service will be held in Houston in the following months.