Former NFL safety Keion Carpenter was killed Thursday morning in what family called a “freak accident” while on vacation in south Florida. He was 39-years-old.
Carpenter, who was playing with this son at the time, the Baltimore Sun reported, slipped and fell while running, hitting his head on the pavement. Jamila Smith, Keion’s cousin, spoke to the Baltimore Sun about the tragedy.
“They were running to the car when (Carpenter) slipped, fell, hit his head and slipped into a coma. It was just a freak accident. He was always healthy; he went to the doctor, ate well and worked out.”
Former teammates and coaches were quick to offer their condolences. Chad Johnson expressed his sadness briefly in a tweet.
The Buffalo Bills were also quick to mourn their former friend and teammate on Friday.
Carpenter’s college family also chimed in on the loss of their friend. Frank Beamer, a former Virginia Tech coach, spoke highly of Carpenter in a statement.
“Cheryl and I were saddened to learn of the passing of Keion Carpenter. Keion was the one of the rocks around which we built our program at Virginia Tech in the 1990s.”
Keion played for the Hokies between 1995 and 1998. He played nearly every game in his time with Virginia Tech, according to the Bleacher Report. Virginia Tech took to Twitter to express their grief about the death of their former teammate.
According to Yahoo! Sports, the 5-foot-11, 205-pound Carpenter started his NFL with the Bills in 1999 after going undrafted. After playing for three seasons in Buffalo, he was traded to the Atlanta Falcons in 2002. Carpenter played 37 games for the Bills and 39 for the Falcons during his NFL career. In 2004, while playing for the Falcons, he sat out most of the season due to injury but played every game of the next season except one. He retired in 2005.
Beamer continued his praise of Carpenter’s off-field endeavors.
“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. Our condolences to Keion’s family on the loss of a great Hokie.”
Keion Carpenter’s post-NFL were spent with family and his charity, The Carpenter House. The charity, located in Baltimore, focused on assistance to families struggling to acquire better access to educational resources. The description of the program states that:
“The Carpenter House 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.”
Keion Carpenter ended his professional career with 61 starts out of 83 total games played, 14 interceptions and 198 tackles, reported Yahoo! Sports.
According to ABCNews2, Carpenter was pronounced dead at 6:47 a.m Thursday morning at Jackson South Community Hospital, located in Miami, after spending the previous 24 hours in a coma. His remains, according to his family, will be laid to rest in his home town of Baltimore, Maryland.
Keion Carpenter is survived by his wife, Tonia Carpenter, and four children.
[Featured Image by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images]