MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Emmanuel Lubin, a Florida International University football player and graduate of North Miami Beach Senior High School who has relatives with successful careers in the NFL and NBA, died Saturday night in a car crash in Miami-Dade County. He was 21.
The FIU Athletics Department announced the senior's death Sunday afternoon, adding that the defensive back played 45 games -- racking up 86 career tackles and one interception -- during four seasons with the Panthers.
FIU head football boach Butch Davis described Lubin, who enrolled at FIU on Aug. 28, 2015 and wore No. 20 for the Golden Panthers, as a great young man. Lubin was going to celebrate his 22nd birthday July 30.
"He was a hard worker, great teammate and was respected and loved by his teammates, coaches and staff at FIU," Davis said in a statement. "His character, work ethic and leadership were instrumental in leading our program to success these past two seasons."
Florida Highway Patrol Lt. Alejandro Camacho said Lubin was involved in a crash on the Florida Turnpike near the Okeechobee toll gantry at Doral's western boundary. The cause of the crash remains under investigation.
Lubin, who was pursuing a degree in liberal studies, played and started in all 13 games last year. He helped lead the Panthers to a school-record nine wins on the way to a Bahamas Bowl victory over Toledo to cap his senior season.
"Our football program is mourning his loss and we will honor Emmanuel every day moving forward," Davis said. "Our hearts and prayers go out to his friends and family."
When he was a little boy, Lubin watched his older brother, Edjaun "E.J." Biggers, play football for the Miami Xtreme Youth Football League. They both played for the North Miami Beach Sundevils youth football program.
Lubin wanted to follow in his brother's footsteps to the NFL. Biggers, 32, is a former cornerback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Washington Redskins, the Philadelphia Eagles and the New England Patriots.
Miami-Dade Officer Rich Raphael, the president of the Miami Xtreme Youth Football League, was in tears Sunday. He said he remembers Lubin as a "fun-loving kid" who wore his Sundevils' uniform with pride.
"Football meant everything to him. He was a hard worker and always strived for excellence. It was a joy to have him in our program. He is a great kid from a phenomenal family," said Raphael, adding that the Miami Heat's Udonis Haslem is Lubin's cousin. "This breaks my heart."
May God bless “E”— Butch Davis (@FIUCoachDavis) July 21, 2019
We hope peace comes to the hearts of his friends and family. He was a great young man all FIU PANTHERS are proud of‼️ pic.twitter.com/CfGWzBjmQZ