Details are scarce right now, but a source close to the team has informed OGGOA that former Florida Gators safety John Curtis, 24, passed away Wednesday. His death has been ruled a suicide by authorities.
A special teams standout, Curtis joined the Florida scout team in 2004, missed the 2005 campaign with a knee injury and finally played on the kickoff return and punt teams during the Gators’ 2006 National Championship season. He blocked a punt against South Carolina in 2007 but unfortunately tore his anterior cruciate ligament in 2008, an injury that would end his football career.
UPDATE: Curtis passed away after jumping off of a fourth-floor railing above a Lincoln Square Center restaurant in Bellvue, WA, at 8 a.m. Thursday. Police attempted to talk him down at first, but Curtis could not be swayed from taking his life; the local cops continue to investigate the matter.
“It’s tragic when a young life is lost,” head coach Urban Meyer said in a statement on Friday. “I’m not sure how you describe the loss of life in words. John was a great young man who was a proud member of our Gator family. We grieve for him, his friends and his family and pray for their comfort.”
Co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach Chuck Heater shared a similar sentiment. “What do you say? He was a real likable guy here, a lot of players really liked him a lot,” Heater said. “He had, unfortunately, a lot of knee injuries here. He probably could have had a chance to play some football here, more than he did. He played but I’m sure not as much as he would like to. It’s sad and unfortunate. He was a good guy, well-liked team member. Players really liked him. He was a friendly guy with the team, and just dealing with the frustrations of the injuries, which were always hard for him to deal with and accept those things, just the disappointments of all of that. But he was a respected member of our team, that’s for sure.”
One of the first to respond to the news, Cleveland Browns rookie cornerback Joe Haden took to Twitter Thursday. “You never know how much you truly love someone until they are gone. R.I.P. John Curtis #24! You will be missed,” Haden wrote. “Everyone please don’t be afraid to say you love someone! Life is too short! Losing someone special to you makes you realize what’s important in life.”
Jacksonville Sharks CB Dee Webb provided a similar message. “R.I.P. to my former teammate John Curtis 24,” he tweeted. “We [will] miss you homey.”
OGGOA sends our deepest condolences to the Curtis family.