Jessie Lemonier, a former NFL linebacker for the Los Angeles Chargers and the Detroit Lions, died at the age of 25.
Lemonier, who had 17 tackles and 1.5 sacks in 13 career games, died of natural causes, according to neither organisation.
Lemonier and his girlfriend were expecting a child together, according to his agent, Drew Smith.
“Jessie was a model teammate and wonderful young man who left us far too soon,” the Lions said in a statement on Thursday. “During this difficult time, our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
Lemonier signed with the Chargers in 2020 after going undrafted out of Liberty University. He made six appearances for Los Angeles that season before being released the following year. Lemonier then signed with the Lions in 2021, where he appeared in seven games, including two starts, and recorded 15 tackles.
Lemonier was claimed off waivers by the Cardinals in 2022, but he never played for the team.
Lemonier was drafted by the Arlington Renegade of the XFL last November. Instead, the linebacker chose to play in the United States Football League, signing with the Houston Gamblers, who later traded him to the Birmingham Stallions.
Breiden Fehoko, a former Chargers teammate, called Lemonier his “brother” in a tribute on Thursday.
“We came into the league together and had to battle through everything rookie year to get where we are,” Fehoko, a defensive tackle, tweeted. “You were always full of life, bro. BRO, I adore you! Please keep an eye on your people. PLEASE.”