NFL Star Cedric Killings Dead at 45

Former NFL defensive tackle Cedric Killings has died at age 45.

According to a June 23 statement made by Killings' alma mater, Carson-Newman University in Jefferson City, Tennessee, the retired athlete passed away after a battle with pancreatic cancer.

"Cedric was a fantastic person, player, father, husband, teammate and most importantly, a man of God," Carson-Newman head football coach Mike Clowney, who played with Killings during the 1996 season, shared. "We are praying for and grieve with Cedric's family during this difficult time."

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Following his award-winning tenure in college football, in 2000, he joined the NFL, where he played for the San Francisco 49ers, Cleveland Browns, Carolina Panthers, Minnesota Vikings, Washington Redskins and Houston Texans for eight seasons. His career in the professional football league–which included 36 tackles and two playoff games–ended after he fractured a vertebrae during a Texans game against the Indianapolis Colts on Sept. 23, 2007.

He then went on to become an assistant football coach at Carol City High School in Miami Gardens, Florida, and was an active participant in the Miami Dolphins summer program, which aims to enhance player safety and teach proper techniques.

Killings is survived by his wife of 21 years, Shavon, and three children.

After her husband's passing, Shavon shared a heartbreaking tribute on Facebook, writing in part, "My love, my best friend, my husband of 21 years is no longer physically with me but he lives in my heart and in the hearts of our 3 children."

Her statement continued, "I'm comforted in knowing he is resting and no longer in pain, but I'm still at a loss and can't believe this is real."

"If you've ever had the pleasure of meeting him then you already know how special he is. Just an all around great person. I don't just say this as his wife, it's echoed by family, friends, and former teammates. It has been an honor to share life with him, and to love and be loved by him. So grateful for it all. Love you for life," Shavon concluded.

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