BLACKSBURG, Va. -- Former NFL player and Virginia Tech defensive back and special teams standout Keion Carpenter has died.
The school announced Thursday that family members say that Carpenter died in Miami. He was 39.
Jackson South Community Hospital spokesperson Casay Vaughn told The Baltimore Sun that Carpenter collapsed while he was on vacation and was in a coma for 24 hours before he died.
Carpenter’s cousin Jamila Smith told the newspaper that he fell while playing with his son.
“They were running to the car when (Carpenter) slipped, fell, hit his head and slipped into a coma. It was just a freak accident,” she told the paper. “He was always healthy; he went to the doctor, ate well and worked out.”
Carpenter intercepted 14 passes during his NFL career with the Buffalo Bills and Atlanta Falcons. He blocked six kicks at Virginia Tech, tying the school record.
He also founded The Carpenter House, designed to benefit children from low-income homes through mentoring.
Former Hokies coach Frank Beamer recalled Carpenter, a Baltimore native, as “one of the rocks around which we built our program.”
The Hall of Fame coach says Carpenter “had a heart of gold.” Beamer says the former player’s work with The Carpenter House and other charitable organizations to help those in need “truly embodied the Virginia Tech spirit.”