Donald “Reche” Caldwell, who spent seven seasons in the NFL as a wide receiver after a stellar career at Florida, was killed in his hometown of Tampa, Florida, on Saturday night, his mother confirmed to TMZ. He was 41.
Police confirmed to ESPN that there was a homicide but would not say whether Caldwell had been killed.
Caldwell helped lead the Gators to an SEC championship in 2000. He was selected in the second round of the 2002 NFL draft by the San Diego Chargers, where he played until 2005, before signing with the New England Patriots in 2006. He was the Patriots’ leading receiver that year with 760 yards.
He was with the team the next offseason — when he crossed paths with Wes Welker — until being released at the end of the preseason.
Welker tweeted Sunday: “Reche’s smile and attitude were contagious! My thoughts and prayers go out to Bubba Caldwell and his family!”
Welker met Caldwell in 2004 when they were with the Chargers and then reconnected in the offseason before the 2007 season in New England.
“I am saddened to hear the news about Reche. He is remembered for his solid contributions to our team. My thoughts and prayers are with Reche’s family,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said in a statement.
Former Patriots quarterback Tom Brady remembered Caldwell with two posts in his Instagram story.
In addition, former Patriots teammate Benjamin Watson tweeted: “Always kept us laughing and light hearted. Always had the biggest smile. Always had the greatest stories. Sad to hear about the passing of my teammate Reche Caldwell. May the Lord comfort his family during this time.”
We are deeply saddened to learn of the death of former Patriot Reche Caldwell.
Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends. pic.twitter.com/mxBtkTXTKD
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) June 7, 2020
We are deeply saddened by the loss of former Gator WR Reche Caldwell.
Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family. pic.twitter.com/J86KUj7yEw
— Gators Football (@GatorsFB) June 7, 2020
Caldwell’s pleasant demeanor was a point of agreement among his many teammates. Donte Stallworth, who crossed paths with Caldwell in New England in 2007, told ESPN: “He was always smiling and laughing so much it was infectious to everyone around him.”
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SOURCE: ESPN, Jenna Laine