NFL player Keion Carpenter is dead at 39 after hitting his head during a family vacation.
Carpenter, who was a former safety for the Atlanta Falcons and the Buffalo Bills, collapsed during a family trip to Miami and hit his head, Daily Mail reports. Carpenter fell into a coma for a day before being pronounced dead.
The NFL star is survived by wife Tonia, as well as his four children, Kyle, Kierra, Kennedy and Kymiah.
“They were running to the car when he slipped, fell, hit his head and slipped into a coma. It was just a freak accident,” said Jamila Smith, Carpenters cousin. “He was always healthy; he went to the doctor, ate well and worked out.”
After his retirement, the former NFL defensive back had reportedly dedicated himself to The Carpenter House, his charity organization which “aims to strengthen and empower families from disadvantaged backgrounds by providing access to resources, activities and structured environments that enable them to reach their highest academic and economic potential,” according to its website.
According to The Carpenter House’s website, the non-profit has reached more than 3,000 families and children.
Carpenter’s college coach, Frank Beamer, said that he was “saddened” to learn of his former player’s passing. “Keion was one of the rocks around which we built our program at Virginia Tech in the 1990s,” said Beamer. “He was a tenacious punt blocker and a relentless player on defense. More importantly, he had a heart of gold.”
“His work with The Carpenter House and other charitable organizations to help those in need truly embodied the Virginia Tech spirit,” Beamer added. “Our condolences to Keion’s family on the loss of a great Hokie.”
Tommy Polley, a former NFL player who had played alongside Carpenter, recalled his former teammate’s commitment to helping children in Baltimore, the Baltimore Sun reports.
“The guy was amazing, the way he was out in the streets, helping kids and families day by day. He’d hand out toys and bikes in neighborhoods at Christmas time,” Polley said.
“Keion was one of our own, a man we could touch, and you felt his passion and concern when he talked to kids. We could see him doing great things – a role model in every sense of the word. Nobody can replace all that he meant to Baltimore.”
Sources: Daily Mail, Baltimore Sun, The Carpenter House / Photo credit: Instagram via Daily Mail