Keion Carpenter (AP Photo)
Former NFL football player Keion Carpenter passed away in what a family member calls a “freak accident” at 6:47 a.m. on Thursday, December 29. Carpenter had fell and bumped his head then fell into a coma during a vacation, according to his cousin, Jamila Smith.
“He was always healthy; he went to the doctor, ate well and worked out,” Smith said.
Carpenter was in a coma for 24 hours, according to spokesperson Casay Vaughn.
The Baltimore native played of the Virginia Tech Hokies from 1996-1999 as a safety with 10 interceptions in his career. Carpenter started in 61 out of the 83 games that he played in. He excelled as a punt blocker in special teams, tying a school record by blocking six punts.
Carpenter was also a stand out football and basketball player at Woodlawn High School. Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh released a statement, honoring his career and humanitarian work.
“[Carpenter] won our hearts as a beloved community champion with an uncompromising will to reclaim neglected neighborhoods and improve the lives of the underprivileged,” Pugh stated. “There is a piece of Keion that lives in us all.”
Former Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer issued a statement, offering his condolences and expressing his respect for Carpenter.
“Keion was the one of the rocks around which we built our program at Virginia Tech in the 1990s. He was a tenacious punt blocker and a relentless player on defense. More importantly, he had a heart of gold,” Beamer stated.
After he graduated from Virginia Tech in 1999, he became an undrafted free agent and joined the Buffalo Bills. Carpenter also played for the Atlanta Falcons, he intercepted 14 passes in his professional career.
After retiring from the NFL, Carpenter founded The Carpenter House in 2005. The organization started in Baltimore to create resources for underprivileged youth and families. Programs The Carpenter House hosted includes The Commitment 4 Change youth football camp, Carpenter Careers job-training program and the Shutdown Academy football and cheerleading programs.
The programs teach youth about topics from professional development to financial education while allowing them a chance to play football and cheerlead.
Former NFL players Aaron Maybin and Bryant Johnson co-founded the Carpenter House.
Maybin expressed how impactful being mentored by Carpenter was for his life. Maybin stated in an article in the Baltimore Sun how generous Carpenter was and is ability to be kind and considerate of others.
“[Carpenter] took me under his wing and taught me what it really means to give back,” Maybin stated in his article. “He taught me by being accessible, attentive, and always present in the moment with whoever we worked with.”