Former Illinois DE Bobby Roundtree dies aged 23

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Former Illinois DE Bobby Roundtree dies aged 23

Bobby Roundtree, the former Illinois defense force who was paralyzed in a swimming accident in 2019, died unexpectedly Friday at the age of 23.

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The school confirmed his death in a press release.

“Everyone at Illinois Athletics is shocked and saddened by the sudden passing of Bobby Roundtree,” said athletic director Josh Whitman. β€œFrom his first day on campus, Bobby was a leader. His work ethic, competitive spirit and pursuit of excellence set him apart.

After his tragic accident, those same qualities allowed him to face his new challenges with the same strength and determination that we had seen on the football field. In doing so, he continued to bring light and inspiration to the lives of those around him – and in fact to so many who had never had the pleasure of meeting him.”

Roundtree suffered a serious spinal cord injury in the accident when he returned home to Florida for a visit in May 2019. He was in rehab in the Tampa area where he died.

The school has not released a cause of death.

He regularly posted videos on Twitter highlighting the progress of his rehab sessions, with the most recent coming Monday.

β€œHe was fine. He wasn’t sick. He just stopped breathing,” Brenda McCarthy, who knew Roundtree through her role as executive director of the nonprofit We Believe In Me, told The News-Gazette in Champaign, Illinois.

Roundtree played two seasons for the Illini, starting 20 games and earning the All-Big Ten honorable mention in 2018.

“In the face of incredible adversity, he has shown that he was and always will be a true champion,” said Whitman. β€œOur 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 try to celebrate the remarkable young leader we have lost.”

–Field-level media

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