Jessie Lemonier, a former NFL linebacker, has died. He was 25.
“We are shocked and saddened to learn of the passing of former Detroit Lion Jessie Lemonier,” the Detroit Lions wrote in a Thursday, January 26, in a statement shared via Twitter. “Jessie was a model teammate and wonderful young man who is gone far too soon. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends during this difficult time.”
No further details about Lemonier’s death have been revealed.
The late professional athlete was first drafted into the NFL in 2020, signing with the Los Angeles Chargers as an undrafted free agent. After playing in six games with the Chargers, the Florida native signed with the Lions ahead of the 2021 season.
“Gone too soon. Our hearts are with Jessie’s family, friends and loved ones,” a statement via the Chargers’ Twitter page read on Thursday, mourning Lemonier.
The Liberty University alum appeared in seven of the Lions’ games, finishing with 15 total tackles and 1.5 sacks. He went on to sign a contract with the Arizona Cardinals in early 2022 before being released during training camp. Ahead of his death, Lemonier was drafted by the Arlington Renegades in the November 2022 XFL draft before opting to sign with the USFL’s Houston Gamblers instead. The Gamblers eventually traded him to the Birmingham Stallions.
“Eyes stay on the road. Next chapter coming soon,” Lemonier tweeted in April 2020 amid his initial NFL draft. “#Road2theleague.”
Amid news of his death, the football community offered their condolences to the athlete’s family.
“The Liberty Athletics family is deeply saddened to learn about the passing of former Flames football great Jessie Lemonier,” his Lynchburg, Virginia, alma mater wrote in a Thursday Instagram statement. “Jessie was loved by Flames Nation for being a fierce competitor on the gridiron and cherished by his coaches and teammates in the locker room. Liberty Athletics will continue to keep his family and friends in our prayers that God may bring peace and comfort to them during the difficult days ahead.”
During Lemonier’s final seasons with Liberty, he earned MVP honors in the 2019 Cure Bowl when the school won its first bowl game.
“He was my favorite player when he played at Liberty! He was always smiling and joking — he loved the game, his teammates, and putting on a show for the fans,” a social media user tweeted at the time. “I loved watching him on the sidelines after he made a huge play and he did that a lot!”
Prior to his passing, Lemonier and his girlfriend — whose identity has not been publicly revealed — were expecting their first child together. His agent, Drew Smith, confirmed the pregnancy news to ESPN on Thursday.