Ex-Michigan Football Star Craig Roh Dies At 33 From Increasingly Common Disease

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Former Michigan Wolverines defensive star Craig Roh has died after an 18-month battle with stage 4 colon cancer, his wife Chelsea announced on X Wednesday.

He was 33, putting him in a growing sector of younger Americans killed by the disease.

Craig Roh celebrates Michigan's victory over Notre Dame in 2010.
Craig Roh celebrates Michigan's victory over Notre Dame in 2010. Gregory Shamus via Getty Images

As a defensive end and linebacker for Michigan from 2009 to 2012, Roh set the Wolverine record for consecutive starts at 51 and was an All-Big Ten second team selection in his senior season.

Roh went undrafted, but was signed by the NFL’s Carolina Panthers in 2013. He was cut by the team shortly before the 2014 season.

He played 64 games over four seasons in the Canadian Football League with the British Columbia Lions and Winnipeg Blue Bombers. In his final CFL season, 2019, Winnipeg won the Grey Cup.

He is survived by his wife, Chelsea, and 2-year-old son, Max.

“Craig did not want to go public with his diagnosis and battle because, in true Craig fashion, he did not want the attention to be on him,” his brother, Luke Roh, wrote on a GoFundMe page. “From chemo, to targeted therapy, to clinical trials at MD Anderson and in Honduras, Craig was resilient till the very end.”

In the 1990s, colorectal cancer was the fourth leading cause of cancer death in men and women under 50. But now, it’s the first in men and second in women, according to the American Cancer Society. The organization added that the rise is “unexplained.”

“We are seeing a clear uptick in colorectal cancer in younger generations,” Dr. Haddon Pantel, a Yale Medicine colorectal surgeon, told the university’s med school website.

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