It was shocking, to say the least, to find out that the great Dennis Byrd had suddenly died at just 50. Dennis was one of the most inspirational players to ever step foot on the field, and should be remembered for his remarkable life. Click through to learn more about Dennis!
1. He was paralyzed in 1992, and miraculously recovered
Dennis slammed headfirst into Jets teammate Scott Mersereau‘s chest during their Thanksgiving Day 1992 game, and couldn’t move. His neck was broken, and he was paralyzed; there were fears that he was going to die. He was just 26. After months in the hospital, Dennis made a miraculous recovery, and was able to walk with the aid of crutches.
2. He played defensive end for the New York Jets
The New York Jets selected Dennis in the second round of the NFL Draft in 1989. He played defensive end in 1989, defensive tackle in 1990 and 1991, and defensive end again in 1992. After his traumatic 1992 injury, he was unable to play football again, and was forced to retire from the sport.
Dennis Byrd, former Jets defensive lineman and inspiration, passed away today at age 50.#RIPDennisByrd
— New York Jets (@nyjets) October 16, 2016
3. He was a motivational speaker
Dennis traveled the country sharing his incredible story. He even paid a surprise visit to the NY Jets in 2010 to inspire them before their game against the New England Patriots. And it totally worked; they won the game 28-21.
4. He was a minister and high school football coach
Motivational speaking wasn’t his only career. Dennis was deeply religious, and worked as a Pentecostal minister in Tulsa Oklahoma. He was the defensive line coach at Owasso High School in Owasso, Oklahoma, and later at Lincoln Christian School in Tulsa.
5. He has a wife and four children
Dennis leaves behind a wife, Angela Byrd, and four children (names unknown).
HollywoodLifers, our thoughts are with Dennis’ family and and loved ones during this difficult time.