Rashaan Salaam, a former NFL player and Heisman Trophy winner, has died at age 42, a family spokesperson said Tuesday, December 6, according to ESPN.
The ex–running back was found dead in a park in Boulder, Colorado, Monday night, ESPN reported. There were no signs of foul play, authorities say.
Salaam played for the University of Colorado and won the Heisman Trophy in 1994 for helping his team to a winning season. He was picked by the Chicago Bears in the first round, 21st overall, of the 1995 NFL draft. He put up impressive numbers during his rookie season, becoming the youngest NFL player ever to rush for 1,000 yards.
However, he later had several injuries that contributed to his problems with the Bears. He was cut by the team a few years later and briefly signed with several other NFL teams and football leagues before ending his career in 2004.
Salaam told ESPN back in 1999 that his marijuana use contributed to his problems on the field. “It probably had me out there lackadaisical instead of going out there 100 percent,” he told the sports outlet at the time. “Everybody thinks getting high is cool, you can let it go when you want to let it go. But it’s just as potent as cocaine.”
The University of Colorado Buffaloes athletics’ Twitter account paid tribute to Salaam in several tweets Tuesday. “‘We’re minus one true Buffalo today.’ Heisman Trophy winner Rashaan Salaam passes away at age 42,” one tweet read.
Several former NFL players also paid tribute to Salaam on social media. “I will miss my Heisman brother Rashaan Salaam. He was always smiling and just a lot of fun to be around! #RIP,” fellow Heisman winner Matt Leinart tweeted. Ex-NFL star Chad Brown wrote, “Beyond saddened to hear the news about my @cubuffs teammate and friend Rashaan Salaam. We lost a true Buffalo today.”