MIAMI – Former NFL player and Virginia Tech defensive back and special teams standout Keion Carpenter has died.
Family members said Carpenter, 39, died early Thursday at Jackson South Community Hospital in Miami.
A relative told the Baltimore Sun that Carpenter died after a "freak accident" while playing with his son.
His cousin, Jamila Smith, said Carpenter fell while running to a car, struck his head and slipped into a coma. She said he was healthy and regularly worked out.
Carpenter intercepted 14 passes during his NFL career with the Buffalo Bills and the Atlanta Falcons. He blocked six kicks at Virginia Tech, tying the school record.
He also founded The Carpenter House, designed to benefit children from low-income homes through mentoring.
Former Hokies coach Frank Beamer recalled Carpenter, a Baltimore native, as "one of the rocks around which we built our program."
The Hall of Fame coach said Carpenter "had a heart of gold." Beamer said the former player's work with The Carpenter House and other charitable organizations to help those in need "truly embodied the Virginia Tech spirit."
Carpenter is survived by his wife, Tonia Carpenter; four children, ages 7 to 16, Kyle, Kennedy, Kierra and Kymiah; and his parents, Teresa and William Harris.