The University of Illinois announced Friday former star defensive lineman Bobby Roundtree passed away at the age of 23.
Roundtree had become an inspirational figure in his battle to rehab and recover after a diving accident in May 2019 left him paralyzed.
“All of us with Illinois Athletics are shocked and saddened by the sudden passing of Bobby Roundtree,” Illinois athletics director Josh Whitman said in a statement. “From his first day on campus, Bobby was a leader. His work ethic, competitive fire, and drive for excellence set him apart. Following his tragic accident, those same qualities allowed him to tackle his new challenges with the same vigor and determination that we had seen on the football field. In so doing, he continued to bring light and inspiration to the lives of those around him — and, in fact, to so many people who had never had the pleasure of meeting him.
“In the face of incredible adversity, he demonstrated he was, and always will remain, a true champion. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. We will support them, and our players, coaches, and staff who knew him well, as we struggle to understand this terrible news and, ultimately, look to celebrate the remarkable young leader we have lost.
Roundtree made 50 tackles and four sacks in 12 games as a freshman in 2017. He was one of the Big Ten’s best defensive players with 67 tackles and 13.5 sacks as a sophomore.