Reporter Jeff Dickerson, who covered the Chicago Bears for two decades during his tenure at ESPN, died Tuesday from complications from colon cancer. He was 44.
"JD was one of the most positive people you will ever meet," Heather Burns, ESPN deputy editor for digital NFL coverage, said in a statement. "We all got together in October for an event, and there he was lifting our spirits and assuring us he was going to beat cancer."
"That's just who he was," she added. "We are holding Jeff's family, and especially his son, Parker, in our prayers."
Dickerson's death comes two years after the passing of his wife, Caitlin, who battled melanoma complications for eight years, ESPN staff writer Kevin Seifert wrote. Both Dickerson and Caitlin died at the same hospice care facility.
They now leave behind an 11-year-old son, Parker.
During Caitlin's cancer battle, Dickerson took time off from ESPN to care for her and Parker, according to the Chicago Tribune. After her death, Dickerson hosted a radio telethon to raise money for cancer research.
Melissa Rawlins / ESPN Images)
A GoFundMe created to raise money for Parker after the death of his parents has raised more than $350,000 as of Wednesday afternoon.
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"Early this year, Jeff was delivered the devastating news that he was diagnosed with colon cancer," Jen Etling Hobin, his sister-in-law, wrote on the page. "Typical JD, he remained completely optimistic for a full recovery, especially to be there for Parker. Jeff was unfortunately playing the roll of both parents as just two years ago, Caitlin lost her struggle with an extremely rare form of cancer, leaving then eight-year-old Parker with Jeff his only parent."
"Without Caitlin, Jeff has done all he could to support Parker, especially his passion for athletics," Hobin continued. "[Undoubtedly] you could hear the pride in JD's voice when he talked about Parker's achievements at such a young age."
Donations made to the fund will also benefit ESPN's cancer research organization, The V Foundation, Hobin said on the page.
Dickerson is a graduate of the University of Illinois, and covered high school football and basketball games early on in his career, the Daily Herald reported. He began covering the Bears after being hired by ESPN.
"I'm working in my hometown and my parents and family are close by," he told the Daily Herald in 2014. "I'm so fortunate to be able to do what I want and to do it in a place where I want to live. How many people can say that?"