After a long-fought battle with a rare condition, Arteriovenous malformation, that led to a ruptured brain aneurysm and a year-long medically induced coma, former Florida Gators linebacker Neiron Ball has tragically passed away at the age of 27.
Ball's sister Natalie shared the news of his passing in a Facebook message.
Ball, 27, was a fifth-round draft pick by the Oakland Raiders in 2015, but spent time on their injured reserve and was eventually waived by the team in 2017 with a non-football injury designation - presumably related to his condition. He was originally diagnosed in 2011 while at Florida, but was cleared to continue playing football.
The aneurysm occurred on September 16th, 2018, which led to Ball being placed in a 10-month coma. When he woke from the coma in July, it was announced that Ball had become quadriplegic.
His family was in the news recently for setting up a GoFundMe to help pay for medical expenses, which gained national attention and contributions from former teammates and NFL players including Washington Redskins tight end Jordan Reed, Atlanta Falcons safety Keanu Neal, and others. As of the publishing time of this article, the fundraiser is at $136,886 from over 2,300 donors.
Ball's career at Florida was productive, as he recorded 94 tackles, three sacks, 5.5 tackles for loss, an interception and a forced fumble. This led to his selection in the 2015 NFL Draft.
His former Florida teammates have also tweeted out their condolences.
Being a new member of the Florida Gators beat and not previously being a fan of the team, I have no personal connection to Ball. Yet, this is probably one of the toughest celebrity deaths to ever grasp my attention. I've never seen a football fanbase rally in support of a former player the way Gator Nation embraced Ball's struggle.
The heartbreak and outpour of support that has come as a result of his passing are remarkable and so incredibly touching. The success of the Ball family GoFundMe, surpassing an original goal of $50,000 in six days, is a testament to how closely-knit this fanbase is and how supportive each member is of former players. Once a Gator, always a Gator.
Rest in peace, Neiron.