Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire/Getty; Alex Smith/Instagram Alex Smith and daugher
In a lengthy post on Instagram over the weekend, the father of three revealed that his daughter Sloane recently had to undergo surgery to remove a brain tumor. Accompanying a carousel of images of his daughter, the former Washington Commanders player, introduced Sloane to his followers.
"This is Sloane Kenzington Smith, our baby, the youngest of three and our only girl," he wrote. "She is sweet, selfless, intelligent, hilarious, witty, fun-loving, an artist, a singer, and a dancing machine. But most of all she is an incredibly strong girl that has a ton of fight in her."
He then wrote that the first image was captured just a few weeks before his family's "lives changed." On May 10th, their daughter was exhibiting "stroke-like symptoms" and was rushed to the emergency room. There, she had an MRI and doctors discovered she had "a large brain tumor and needed an emergency craniotomy."
Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.
"The 10 hour procedure was the most excruciating time of our lives," Smith wrote. "A clock has never moved so slowly. The incredible neurosurgeons @stanfordchildrens did a miraculous job and were able to remove 100% of the tumor."
Smith said his daughter has since "bounced back from brain surgery like a rockstar," though they are still waiting on some answers.
"After weeks of waiting on pathology, we learned that Sloane's tumor is a very rare malignant tumor with very few documented cases—without a clear road map for treatment," he continued. "We are currently awaiting more tests and gathering as many opinions as we can from doctors across the country to decide the best path forward. We wish this were easy, clear-cut and someone gave us a how-to guide. It's anything but that."
Smith noted that while he does not typically post about his children, he wanted to use this opportunity to thank everyone who has stood with them for the last many weeks.
Alex Smith/Instagram Alex Smith's daughter had surgery for a "large" brain tumor, the former NFL player revealed
"Thank you to our amazing medical team, family, friends, acquaintances and even some strangers who have touched our lives in the last month and a half," he added. "This has been by far the most challenging time we have EVER been through. We know it's not over and we have a journey ahead of us, but without all of you we could not have gotten this far."
The post also appeared on wife Elizabeth's Instagram page with the caption signed "The Smiths."
Smith announced his retirement in April 2021 with a video posted to his Instagram page. He returned to the Washington Commanders the previous year after he suffered a gruesome leg injury during a game in November 2018, which broke his right fibula and tibia.
The athlete's situation quickly escalated after he developed a serious infection in the days following the injury. At one point, doctors even considered amputating his leg to save his life.
He would ultimately endure 17 surgeries and muscle and skin grafts to save his leg. Then, in October 2020, he staged one of the most remarkable comebacks in NFL history when he returned to the field for the first time since his injury.