Sad news from the Arena Football League: Chandler Williams, most recently of the Tampa Bay Storm, died suddenly on Saturday while participating in a flag football tournament in South Florida. He was just 27 years old. Officials haven’t yet released the official cause of death, but right now, they’re calling it natural causes.

It’s always sad when someone that young passes on into eternity, but there’s nothing natural about an athlete dying at 27. We brace ourselves for the deaths of older people, even people who live high-risk lifestyles, but there’s nothing natural about a young man being cut down in the prime of his life playing the sport he always loved. 

Coming out of Florida International University, Williams was a wide receiver and eventually a seventh-round draft pick by the Minnesota Vikings in 2007. He never saw any regular-season action, but he played in pre-season games for the Vikings, Dolphins, Falcons, and Chiefs. He also played for the Toronto Argonauts in the Canadian Football League.

He joined the AFL’s Tampa Bay Storm in 2012, and tucked 17 touchdowns and 1,000 yards receiving under his belt. He also averaged 23 yards on kickoff returns.

As if this sad story needed anything else to make it sadder, Williams leaves behind a fiancée and a daughter. They’ll miss him and mourn him, but at least they can take comfort in knowing he passed doing exactly what he loved. Sounds clichéd, but when it actually happens, it makes a world of difference for the person whose life is being remembered. 

Is it harder to mourn an unexpected death or a the loss of a loved one whose illness gave you time to say everything you wanted to say? 


Image via NFL